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Gaza's Cancer Patients Denied Life-Saving Treatment Amid Border Restrictions
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By News
Published 4 weeks ago on
March 14, 2024

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The only cancer hospital in the region shut down in November due to fuel shortages.

The evacuation process for sick and injured Palestinians is complex and fraught with difficulties.

An Egyptian travel agency is reportedly charging Palestinians $5,000 per person to leave Gaza.


Cancer patients in Gaza are being denied access to life-saving treatment due to border restrictions and bureaucratic red tape.

Siham, a 62-year-old leukemia patient, is one of approximately 10,000 cancer patients in Gaza who have been unable to receive treatment or medication since the only cancer hospital in the region shut down in November due to fuel shortages.

Despite her name being on an evacuation list, Siham has been turned away at the Rafah border crossing five times since the war began.

The border crossings with Gaza were closed for nearly a month after Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,200 people and taking 253 others hostage. Israel’s subsequent military campaign in Gaza has resulted in the deaths of more than 31,000 Palestinians and left 73,000 injured.

Evacuation Process and Challenges

In November, Egypt reopened the Rafah crossing to allow Egyptian citizens and other foreign passport holders to leave, as well as seriously injured and sick Palestinians.

However, the evacuation process is complex and fraught with difficulties. A doctor or hospital in Gaza nominates the patients needing the most urgent medical care to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza. Those names are then sent to the Egyptian authorities, who run a security check. Once Egypt approves the list, it is vetted by the Israeli authorities, who must also approve the names.

Patients Still Denied Access

Despite this, many patients are still being denied access to leave. The Israeli Ministry of Defense stated that there is no restriction on the number of patients who can cross at Rafah to obtain medical treatment outside the Gaza Strip. However, the final decision on whether a patient is allowed to leave is up to Palestinian border authorities.

Exploitation Amid Crisis

The war has also given rise to a lucrative monopoly, with one Egyptian travel agency, Hala, reportedly is charging Palestinians $5,000 per person to leave Gaza within one to two weeks. This cost of evacuating one adult is more than four times the average annual salary in Gaza.

For Siham and other cancer patients like her, time is running out. Despite being approved for evacuation, she has been refused by Palestinian border authorities, and her health is quickly deteriorating.

Read more at BBC News.

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