Medical Misdirection in The Guardian

This was published at HonestReporting by Simon Plosker

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.

Al-Biss caught at the Erez Crossing

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.

6 replies »

  1. I posted this on the previous article about this issue, but it pbears reposting:

    A couple of years ago I spent time with one of the (civilian) people in Tel Aviv responsible for organizing the permits for Gazans to enter Israel to receive medical treatment. The office included an Arab woman in full Islamic dress who acted as both interpreter and assistant for ironing out problems on the “other side”.

    The problem that the organization has to deal with is that Hamas limits the number of people allowed to cross into Israel for medical treatment because they feel it is embarrassing that Gazans need to seek assistance from the Zionists.

  2. I posted on the Honest Reporting site about this too, but here it is again.

    The medical “professionals” at PHR(I) should know the difference between noting that some things happen at the same time and inferring a causal relationship. The fact that “some” of those who apparently attended Israeli interviews were granted permits admits that “some”, perhaps “many” or even “most” who were interviewed were NOT granted permits.

    I would wager that “some” of those granted permits ate hummous the day before, but I don’t claim that one caused the other!

    Israel-bashing at its most flimsy.

  3. It takes a very special kind of nastiness to plan on blowing up the hospital where you are receiving treatment.

    The fact that Israel continues to treat any Palestinians at all after Wafa al-Biss tried to kill the doctors and nurses helping her is testament to Israel’s humanity. The Palestinians would have only themselves to blame if Israel decided the risk of being bombed by a terrorist posing as a patient was no longer worth taking.

    I can only hope that al-Biss needs urgent medical help in the future, and that she is refused a permit to get treatment in Israel. It would be poetic justice.