'I Don't Want to Lose My Other Leg'

Court Orders Israel to Justify Refusal to Grant Gazan Entry for Medical Care

Gaza journalist was injured while he participated in a demonstration at the border; Israeli authorities denied him and another amputee entry because they attended the demonstration

Palestinians evacuate Gaza journalist Yasser Murtaja during clashes with Israeli troops at the Gaza border on April 6, 2018.
\ IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/ REUTERS

The High Court of Justice issued a warrant Thursday evening ordering the state to explain why it did not let an injured Gaza resident leave the Strip in order to receive urgent medical care in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The man, a Palestinian named Yousef Karnez, has already suffered one leg amputation and is at risk of getting his other leg amputated.

The court's decision dictates that the state respond to the warrant by Sunday.

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The court issued its warrant after a hearing was held earlier Thursday regarding a petition filed by the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights on behalf of Karnez and another man, Muhammad Alajuri, regarding their request to leave Gaza in order to receive medical care in Ramallah.

The two injured men were released from the hospital in Gaza because hospitals in the coastal enclave have decided to discharge most patients whose lives are not in danger in order to prepare for Friday marches by the border fence that will be held for the third consecutive week.  

Karnez, who is waiting in his home to see whether or not his other leg might be saved, told Haaretz that he was injured while documenting protests along the border. Karnez says he is a beginning journalist and was holding a camera at the demonstration in order to document the event.

"I got two bullets- one hit my left leg and crushed it and the other hit my right leg, where it gravely injured my shin. Doctors have already amputated my left leg and I am begging; I don't want to lose my other leg," he told Haaretz.

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The two injured men lost their legs after Israel refused to give them entry to the West Bank due to their participation in the protests. When explaining why their requests were denied, Israeli authorities acknowledged that their injuries met the criteria for the permit but that they decided not to grant it because of their involvement in the marches.  

“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.”

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.