PA blocks Palestinian patients from receiving treatment in Israel

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh takes brutal step in implementing Palestinian policy to disengage from Israel, banning Palestinians from getting treatment in Israeli hospitals.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh ordered a stop to Palestinians getting treatment in Israeli hospitals, the Makor Rishon newspaper reported Sunday.

The move comes only days after the Palestinian Authority (PA) announced it was ending security coordination with Israel, a response to Israel’s intention to annex some 30 percent of Judea and Samaria, territory the PA wants for a future state.

Although thousands of Palestinians get treatment annually in Israeli hospitals, Shtayyeh justified the decision by saying Israeli health care costs too much. However, PA health care is sub-par.

As a result, patients who need transplants, cancer patients and others with serious illnesses find themselves without quality care. In some cases it will mean a death sentence, the report said.

Shtayyeh and Palestinian Health Minister Mai Kaila said the alternative to treatment in Israel would be the Palestinian hospitals, including those in eastern Jerusalem hospitals. Palestinians could also travel to Jordan and Egypt for treatment even though costs would likely be higher, especially for families who are forced to leave their homes and live abroad for the duration of their care.

In practice, Jordan and Egypt accept few Palestinian patients for treatment and many of the Palestinian-run hospitals in eastern Jerusalem have accumulated debts that have hampered the level of ongoing care.

Shtayyeh’s decision last year to break off any “normalization” with Israel at first did not include hospitalization in Israel, so the effect of the decision on health care was minimal. Almost half of Palestinian patients in need of life-saving treatment in Israel do not receive it and Palestinian hospitals cannot provide those patients with adequate medical response, aggravating their illnesses and sometimes leaving them to die.

Palestinians needing hospitalization in Israel require a Palestinian health committee authorization, but the report said these approvals are only granted to those financially capable or those who are able to obtain funding for medical treatment from charities and can be hospitalized in Israel without the approval of the committee.

A Palestinian source told Makor Rishon that close associates of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian security forces often use force and threaten committee members to obtain hospitalization permits.

Palestinians who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid reprisals said they feel “this is a mob-based behavior,” saying permits were recently denied to patients who were previously allowed to get treatment in Israel.

The exact number of Palestinian patients who need and do not receive treatment in Israel is unknown. It is estimated that hundreds of cancer patients who have previously received treatment in Israel are currently being referred to hospitals in Palestinian-controlled territory or Augusta Victoria Hospital in eastern Jerusalem.

Palestinian social media apparently has many descriptions of patients, including children, who were to receive dialysis treatments in Israel or undergo life-saving transplants and died slowly in Palestinian hospitals due to political decisions.

Last week, the Palestinian Authority refused to receive equipment donated by the UAE to help fight coronavirus because it came through Israel. The Emirates Airlines plane with the medical aid landed at Ben Gurion Airport.