Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) on Monday said the Shin Bet security service has recently tightened its policy of issuing permits to cancer patients from Gaza seeking treatment in Israel, Army Radio reported.

The human rights organization said that the Shin Bet ignored all 12 requests that were submitted over the past two weeks.

Ruhama Marton, the president of PHR, told Army Radio that the "Shin Bet is delaying its answer to the extent that it's the same as not answering at all. What is at issue here is a matter of life and death: for cancer patients, a four-week waiting period equals death."

In response, a Shin Bet spokesperson said that the security service has recently detected a growing tendency of Palestinians to falsify medical documents in order to exploit Israel's issuing of entry permits on humanitarian grounds.

"The 12 request forms in question have been handled and transferred to the IDF coordination office in Gaza," the spokesperson said.

At the beginning of April, a United Nations agency said Israel turned away more sick Palestinians from Gaza seeking treatment since Hamas seized control of the coastal strip and several have died each month unnecessarily.

The World Health Organization said Israel denied entry permits to 18.5 percent of patients seeking to leave the Gaza Strip in 2007 versus 10 percent in 2006.

In absolute terms, however, the number of patients from Gaza who were treated in Israel substantially increased, rising from nearly 5,000 in 2006 to 7,000 in 2007.