HAIFA, Israel – Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has no problem calling for the destruction of Israel and blaming it for attacks linked to his own party, but when his relative needs life-saving heart surgery, only Israeli doctors will do.
The stunning hypocrisy comes to light after five Hamas-backed terrorists allegedly killed 16 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula that borders Gaza. Although evidence points to a Hamas-backed terror operation, Haniyeh inexplicably blamed it on Israel. The suspects were later killed by Israeli Defense Forces when they tried to cross the Kerem Shalom border.
"Israel is responsible, one way or another, for this attack to embarrass Egypt's leadership and create new problems at the border, in order to ruin efforts to end the [Israeli] siege of the Gaza Strip,” Haniyeh claimed during in an interviews with the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa television.
Yet only a few months ago, the revelation that Ismail Haniyeh’s brother-in-law received a special permit from the Israeli government to travel into the Jewish State to receive life-saving heart surgery has come as something of a surprise.
Haniyeh’s sister Suhila’s husband suffered undisclosed heart problems four months ago that doctors in Gaza were unable to treat, according to Ynetnews.com. The stricken man and his wife were whisked to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva in central Israel, where he was treated, and some days later, the couple returned to Gaza.
“A person from the inner circle of the Hamas leadership did receive treatment at Beilinson Hospital," an Israeli government source confirmed to FoxNews.com. "Although there are no diplomatic relations between Israel and Hamas, there are many occasions when requests for help based on purely medical decisions taken in Gaza are granted by Israel for humanitarian reasons.”
No one from Hamas was available for comment on the case.
Guy Inbar, spokesman for Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories told FoxNews.com that Israel routinely renders such humanitarian aid to Palestinians - when it is requested. “Approximately 115,000 Palestinian patients from the West Bank were treated in Israeli hospitals during 2011. Additionally, some 9500 permits were issued for Palestinians from Gaza to receive treatment”, he said.
The Palestinian Authority, which has received an average of $600 million in annual aid from the U.S., foots the bill for all medical treatment of Palestinians in Israeli hospitals.
But Haniyeh's rhetoric against Israel may be coming at the expense of ailing Palestinians without ties to the leadership. In recent weeks there has been a notable decrease in the number of permits being requested by Gazans for medical treatment in Israel, prompting some regional observers to wonder if Haniyeh - who has repeatedly vowed not to rest until “Israel is wiped off the face of the map”- is now denying his own people the opportunity to benefit from Israeli medical help.
Ronen Bergman, an expert on Israeli intelligence affairs, told Fox News that he feels the permission granted to Haniyeh’s brother-in-law for treatment in Israel could however be part of a bigger picture.
"Hamas is well aware that Israel will give high quality treatment to Palestinians without taking into consideration their organizational membership," he said. "Furthermore, this case could be interpreted as a signal to Hamas ... that the channels of negotiation that brought about the release last year of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit ... might potentially be used to develop better relations between the two sides.”
Paul Alster is an Israel-based broadcast journalist and can be followed on Twitter at @paulalster