Israeli doctors’ group asks Supreme Court to halt removal of Palestinians in East Jerusalem hospitals

Israeli doctors’ group asks Supreme Court to halt removal of Palestinians in East Jerusalem hospitals - International News - News

Israeli NGO Petitions Supreme Court to Halt Deportation of Palestinian Patients from East Jerusalem Hospitals to Gaza

An Israeli non-profit organization, Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHR), has taken the extraordinary step of petitioning the Supreme Court to prevent the Israeli government from sending Palestinian patients undergoing treatment in East Jerusalem hospitals back to the Gaza Strip. This action came in response to a report by News Finder on Palestinian hospital patients, following weeks of uncertainty and confusion regarding their imminent removal from Jerusalem hospitals.

According to PHR spokesperson Ran Yaron, who spoke to media on Wednesday, the organization filed a petition due to concerns that sending Palestinian residents back to Gaza during military conflict and humanitarian crisis poses deliberate risks to innocent lives. He emphasized that international law prohibits such deportations, especially when patients may face dire consequences upon their return due to unsanitary conditions, hunger, and limited access to medical care.

Approximately two dozen Palestinian patients and their companions were initially scheduled to be bused to Gaza early Thursday morning, but their departure has already been delayed twice for unknown reasons. Among those affected are five newborn babies and their mothers, cancer patients in remission, and a few companions accompanying patients, according to hospital officials.

Three mothers interviewed by News Finder shared conflicting emotions about returning to Gaza – a desire to be reunited with their families and other children, but also the instinct to protect their newborns by remaining in Jerusalem. Nima Abu Garrara, a mother of months-old twins, expressed her concerns about the Israeli military’s potential actions upon their return to Rafah: “I might go back and then they invade Rafah. I’ll be the one responsible for anything that harms them. I was dying when I came here, and I stayed with them here to protect them.”

Physicians for Human Rights Israel stated that the Israeli security officials’ refusal to issue a written directive regarding Palestinian patients’ deportation indicates their awareness of its illegality and an attempt to avoid responsibility. Hospital officials have primarily been communicating with COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry body responsible for Palestinian affairs, which is coordinating the departures.

COGAT confirmed to News Finder that Palestinians from Gaza no longer requiring in-patient medical care are being sent back to Gaza, and international aid organizations will coordinate their return. In cases where further medical treatment is necessary, COGAT arranges for patients to stay in hospitals to safeguard their health.

Meanwhile, Augusta Victoria Hospital, which treats Gazan cancer patients, had resisted Israeli government demands to provide a list of Palestinians who no longer required in-patient care. Dr. Fadi Atrash, the hospital’s CEO, expressed his frustration at being unable to help patients in Gaza since the beginning of the conflict: “As doctors, this is our daily feeling – that we are not able to do anything.”

The ongoing situation highlights the complex challenges facing Palestinian patients and medical professionals amidst ongoing conflict and humanitarian crises, and the critical role of organizations like Physicians for Human Rights Israel in advocating for their rights and wellbeing.