JERUSALEM – A Palestinian cancer patient who had petitioned Israel's Supreme Court to receive treatment at a Tel Aviv hospital has died before a final ruling in the case, a human rights group said Monday.
The group, Physicians for Human Rights, accused stringent Israeli security policies of keeping Nael al-Kordi out of Israel and contributing to his death on Saturday of testicular cancer. Israel said in response that it allows thousands of Gazans to receive treatment in Israel each year, but that those Palestinians who constitute a security risk are not permitted entry.
Al-Kordi was included a Physicians for Human Rights petition to the Supreme Court last week that involved 11 Palestinians with "life-endangering conditions." On the morning of the court hearing, the state agreed to grant entry to four of the patients. The court gave the state a week to respond to several of the cases, including that of al-Kordi.
Al-Kordi, 20, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in February, 2006 and received his first radiation treatment in Egypt two months later, Physicians for Human Rights said. When Gaza's crossing with Egypt was closed following the militant Hamas group's takeover of Gaza in June, al-Kordi was unable to continue treatment in Egypt. He was referred to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv and first tried in July to gain entry to Israel, the group said.
Israel repeatedly refused entry for al-Kordi. His condition deteriorated badly after the cancer spread to his liver, the group said. The condition damages liver function and can be life threatening.
"We went to the civil affairs office three times to get him a permit to go to an Israeli hospital, but (we were told) he was denied due to security reasons," said Rami al-Kordi, 22, Nael's brother, sitting in the living room of the family's modest home in Gaza City. "I wonder what threat a 21-year old sick man can pose to security."
Shlomo Dror, a spokesman for the Israeli's army branch that issues entry permits, said that most of those Palestinians who want to travel to Israel for medical treatment are allowed in. Dror said did not know specifically about al-Kordi's case.
Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005 but still has at least partial control over its crossings with the outside world, including neighboring Egypt. While Israel virtually sealed off Gaza after the militant Hamas took over the coastal area in June, Dror denied that the number of humanitarian cases allowed into Israel has fallen.
In October of 2007, Israel granted entry to 1,482 Palestinian patients, up from 567 in October of 2006, Dror said.