As NGO Monitor has extensively detailed, Physicians For Human Rights (Israel) has a radical political agenda far removed from simple medical matters. It’s therefore no surprise that the organization provides the main body of an article in The Guardian that claims: “Palestinian patients and business people hoping to leave the Gaza Strip are being asked to collaborate with Israel in exchange for an exit permit”.
According to PHR:
172 people, mostly men aged 18 to 40, were called for interrogation by the Shabak, Israel’s internal intelligence agency, last month. Some who attended interviews were granted exit permits.
Putting this figure into perspective, in August 2011 alone, 1522 permits were granted for medical treatment to residents of Gaza (762 patients and 760 for accompanying individuals). In one week in December 2011, 330 patients and accompanying individuals crossed into Israel and the West Bank via the Erez Crossing.
Not to mention that there is nothing to stop Gazans from crossing into Egypt for medical treatment. After all, Israel is under no obligation other than humanitarian concerns, to treat Gazans in Israeli hospitals where Jews and Arabs are treated equally by both Jewish and Arab medical staff based solely on medical and not political concerns.
Israel’s security services would not be doing their jobs properly if extreme caution was not exercised in giving out permits to Gazan patients. While The Guardian is happy to publish a story accusing Israel of abusing the right to healthcare, it would do well to remember the real abuse of medical permits.
For example, Wafa Samir Ibrahim al-Biss (recently released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner deal) was caught attempting to smuggle a suicide bomb belt through Erez taking advantage of her medical permit for hospital treatment at Soroka Hospital in Israel. Indeed, Wafa actually intended to blow herself up in the very hospital that had given her treatment.
The MFA details other examples of Palestinians abusing the medical permit system.
Nobody said that the task of accumulating human intelligence from Gaza is a pleasant business. It is, however, necessary. That this story appears in The Guardian courtesy of PHR-I is merely the result of the unholy and symbiotic relationship between anti-Israel journalists and anti-Israel NGOs.
Thankfully, for every story such as this one, there are many more such as that of Israeli doctors saving the life of a Palestinian baby thanks to open-heart surgery – just the sort of news that you won’t ever see in The Guardian.