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Checkpoint hardship for sick Gazans seeking care in Israel

Some sick patients in the Gaza Strip have reported that Israeli security officers offered to exchange travel permits for information.
A PORTER PUSHES AN ELDERLY PALESTINIAN CANCER PATIENT THROUGH THE EREZ CROSSING BETWEEN THE GAZA STRIP AND ISRAEL.  A porter pushes an elderly Palestinian cancer patient through the Erez crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel March 21, 2004. Palestinian doctors complain Israel has stopped allowing ambulances to bring patients into Israel from Gaza, forcing the sick to cross unaided through the heavily guarded checkpoint. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic - RTRFRM5

Fadi al-Katshan, from the Gaza Strip, underwent a critical vascular surgery at the Israeli Tel Hashomer Hospital in May 2013. A ventricular assist device (VAD) was installed in his heart, and he was supposed to return later for a medical consultation. The operation was successful, and Katshan returned to his family in the Gaza Strip in good health. He tried to get a travel permit from the Israeli authorities for a medical consultation four times, but he was unsuccessful. Not long thereafter, on Nov. 16, he began feeling strong chest pains and died at age 26. 

Katshan’s story seems to resemble the stories of dozens of patients who die as a result of the blockade on Gaza’s border crossings. Yet, his story stands out because an Israeli intelligence officer called Katshan after the first request for a travel permit was rejected. The officer said, “Fadi, we know that there’s a device in your heart that might explode any minute. That is why we will not give you a permit unless you cooperate with us.”

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