According to the report, Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Unit (COGAT) has issued roughly 27,000 permits for Gaza residents – including both patients and their families – to receive medical treatment in Israel, and elsewhere.
According to the World Health Organization, in 2013, the most recent year for which there are statistics, 3,840 Gazans were treated in Israel. The most popular reasons for care are cancer treatments, ophthalmology and paediatric care.
Over the past year, a number of relatives of Hamas officials have been treated in Israeli hospitals, including the mother-in-law and daughter of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and the sister of Hamas spokesman Moussa Abu Marzouk. Gazans were admitted for care in Israel even while Hamas was firing barrages of rockets at Israel last summer during Operation Protective Edge. During that time, Israel set up a field hospital on the border with Gaza, but Hamas prevented Gazans from accessing the hospital.
The AP story focuses on teenagers Ahmed and Hadeel Hamdan, who require kidney dialysis and have been treated at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa since 2012. When not at the hospital, they receive treatment at home with equipment provided by the hospital. Their mother has been trained in how to use the equipment.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told the AP that despite the frequent rocket launches and terror attacks launched by Hamas, the de facto government in Gaza, Israel’s efforts to treat the ill is a humanitarian matter. Mr Regev said granting access to Israeli hospitals was “fundamentally” a humanitarian matter and “this is an ongoing policy. That has been the policy for decades”.
The arrangements for the medical care are made with the Palestinian Authority.