Since October 7, Israeli security forces have taken a number of steps that condemned sick Palestinians to a slow death. In Gaza, the lone cancer treatment center has been made inoperable by Israeli military operations. In East Jerusalem, Gazan hospital patients were rounded up and deported to the West Bank.
According to El Pais, chronically ill Gazans have nowhere to seek treatment. “In Gaza, even before the war, only the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital treated oncology patients, even though the enclave is home to 2.3 million people,” the outlet reports. “Now this center is one of at least 25, out of a total of 35, according to the United Nations, rendered inoperable by the bombardments in which nearly 15,000 people have been killed, according to the Strip’s health authorities.”
Prior to the recent escalation in violence, the situation for Palestinian cancer patients in Gaza was bleak. “Since it imposed its blockade on Gaza in 2007, Israel has banned the import of radiotherapy machines, among other equipment,” the El Pais article notes.
The lack of adequate medical facilities leads some Palestinians to seek treatment outside of Gaza. Gazans who had traveled to East Jerusalem for cancer treatment before the Hamas attack on October 7 have since been arrested. “According to testimonies gathered by this newspaper in Ramallah, the Israeli police arrested other patients or their companions in a hotel and even inside the Makassed hospital itself,” the outlet reported. “After being questioned, the Israeli police took them to the Zeituna checkpoint and expelled them into the West Bank.”
Aseel Abu Rass, spokesman for Physicians for Human Rights, described the Israeli raid on Makassed. “When they raided the hospital, the police did not warn the management that they were coming to check on these people allegedly in an irregular situation. They simply sealed the entrance doors, burst into the hospital and violently detained even elderly women accompanying children, and interrogated health personnel. This is unacceptable.” He added that even if their permits had expired, “these people had nowhere to go” because they could not return to Gaza. Some of the detainees were “parents who were accompanying their sick children, so the children were left alone in the hospital.”
One patient, Abdallah Nabil, may have lost his only chance of surviving his colon cancer. On October 9, he was arrested by Israeli police, beaten, and then expelled from East Jerusalem into the West Bank. He was not allowed to retrieve his medical records. The West Bank does not have a medical facility where Nabil can obtain treatment.