HAIFA, April 12, 2018 (WAFA) - Doctors in the Gaza Strip amputated on Wednesday the legs of two young Palestinian men after Israel has refused to allow their transfer to a Palestinian hospital in the West Bank, in accordance with a punitive Israeli policy denying those who participated in a protest access to urgent medical care, according to a press release by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.
The two young men – Yousef Karnaz, 20, and Mohammad Al-‘Ajouri, 17, both from Gaza, were shot and wounded by the Israeli military during Land Day protests in the Gaza Strip on March 30.
Adalah and the Gaza-based al-Mezan Center for Human Rights filed a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court on Sunday demanding that Israel allow the two seriously wounded men to leave Gaza for urgent medical treatment at Ramallah’s Al Istishari Arab Hospital.
The Supreme Court delayed its decision on the matter and – despite the urgent nature of the situation – allowed the state attorneys three days to respond to the Adalah-Al Mezan petition.
Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, which had no means to rescue the wounded men’s legs, referred them to Al Istishari Hospital on 1 April and a request to exit Gaza and transfer to Ramallah was submitted to the Israeli military‘s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) that same day.
However, COGAT did not respond and Adalah and al-Mezan sent an urgent letter on 4 April requesting authorization for immediate passage for the wounded men from Gaza to Ramallah. On 5 April, Adalah was informed that COGAT refused the wounded men’s requests.
The Supreme Court will nevertheless hold a hearing on the case on Thursday.
Adalah asked for an urgent hearing as one of the young men, Yousef Karnaz, is in danger of losing his second leg if he does not receive urgent medical attention in the West Bank.
In its response to the Adalah-Al Mezan petition, the state detailed a punitive policy designed to prevent wounded from leaving Gaza for medical care due to their alleged participation in a protest.
The state asserted that it did not allow Karnaz and Al-‘Ajouri to leave Gaza because they were wounded as a result of their participation “in a violent riot organized by Hamas.”
While the state admitted that the medical condition of the two wounded men justified their exit from Gaza for urgent care, the state also declared that “authorized bodies” decided to deny their evacuation to the Ramallah hospital.
Israel’s punitive policy of denying access to urgent medical care, the delay in COGAT’S response, and the three days that the Supreme Court granted the state to respond to Adalah and Al Mezan’s urgent petition, ultimately resulted in the amputation of the two men’s legs, said the press release.
Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher stated in response that, “the amputation of the two young men’s legs could have been prevented if the state had complied with its obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law. The state‘s response indicates that Israel‘s policy is to prevent those in danger of losing organs from leaving Gaza for medical treatment, in order to punish them for participating in a non-violent protest.”
The willful act of denying urgent medical care, in these circumstances, may constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and/or torture under the UN Convention Against Torture, ratified by Israel, said Adalah.