Israel Denied Passage for Medical Treatment to Two Palestinians Who Protested in Gaza - and Their Legs Were Amputated

The two amputees were shot during mass protests near the Gaza border fence, which government cites as reason for rejection of permit requests

A wounded Palestinian demonstrator is evacuated at the Israel-Gaza border at a protest in the southern Gaza Strip April 9, 2018
\ IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/ REUTERS

Two Palestinians from the Gaza Strip have had their legs amputated after Israel refused them entry to the West Bank over their participation in mass protests at the Gaza border. The High Court of Justice discussed the case on Thursday, as one of the two may need another amputation if he does not receive treatment in Ramallah.

The two were shot in the legs during the Gaza border fence demonstrations roughly two weeks ago, which Israeli authorities gave as the reason their requests to enter the West Bank were denied, even though they acknowledged that the injuries met the criteria for permit. 

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 “On the surface, the petitioners’ condition ostensibly fulfills the medical criterion for receiving a permit but the authorized officials decided not to grant their requests,” Israeli authorities said in response to a petition submitted to the court on behalf of the two injured individuals. “The main consideration for the refusal stems from the fact that their medical condition is a function of their participation in the disturbances.”

Tear gas fired by Israeli security forces passes through black smoke created by Palestinian protesters burning tires during clashes on the Gaza-Israel border east of Khan Yunis, Gaza. April 6, 2018
SAID KHATIB/AFP

The two filed the petition on Sunday via the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, demanding an urgent hearing to enable them to go to the hospital in Ramallah, where their legs could possibly be saved. But the court decided not to hold an immediate session and gave the government three days to respond.

Due to the delay and the state’s refusal to grant the two permits, the petitioners both lost a leg.

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On Wednesday evening the High Court of Justice notified the parties that a three-justice panel would hold a hearing on the matter on Thursday morning.

Palestinian demonstrators cover their faces as they burn tyres during a protest on the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City. April 6, 2018
MOHAMMED ABED/AFP

The amputations “could have been prevented if the state had fulfilled its obligation under the humanitarian international law,” said Sawsan Zahar, an attorney for the Adalah Legal Center, who drafted the petition. The government's response means Israel’s policy is to prevent wounded people who are in danger of losing their limbs from leaving Gaza to receive medical treatment in order to punish them, he said. 

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Following the deaths of over two dozen Palestinians in the recent protests, which Israel says were instigated by Hamas in order to create chaos as a cover for launching attacks, the military has announced that it will launch an inquiry into the conduct of its soldiers.