Contrary to Guardian claim, there are no Israeli restrictions on medicine to Gaza (Update)

When you come across a Guardian article about healthcare issues in Gaza, you pretty much know for certain what to expect. Regardless of the details, the story will ignore Hamas’s role completely, and inevitably leave readers with the impression that Israel restrictions are preventing vital medicine and medical supplies from reaching Gaza.

A May 18th article in the Guardian, written by Philippa Whitford (A breast surgeon and Scottish National Party MP) represents a case in point.

Whitford describes her recent visit to Gaza in the context of recollections of volunteer work she did in the territory 25 years ago, and comes to the conclusion that – despite Israel’s withdrawal in 2005 – the situation for patients has gotten worse, not better, due to Israeli restrictions.

While life inside the strip no longer involves curfews and clashes, the blockade and the threat of further repeated incursions from Israel hang over every aspect of life.

For women with breast cancer in Gaza, Israel’s and Egypt’s near-total closure affects nearly every stage of their diagnosis and treatment. Doctors in clinics and hospitals told me vital medicines, including chemotherapy drugs, were hard to procure. Several patients reported having had their chemotherapy course interrupted when drugs could not be supplied, or simply having been unable to complete the course at all.

Radio isotopes used in bone scans or for guided biopsy of axillary lymph nodes are forbidden entry into Gaza despite having no potentially dangerous application. Gaza’s surgeons are prevented from travelling out to attend conferences or further develop their skills, freezing surgical practice many years behind the rest of the world. A Harvard Medical School study has shown that five-year survival rates for breast cancer patients are as low as 30-40%, compared with around 85% in England.

Radiotherapy is completely unavailable. Patients requiring it must therefore apply to Israel for a permit to travel to hospitals in East Jerusalem. The application procedure is time-consuming, and patients must cover the cost of their own transport and accommodation.

First, the claim that Israeli restrictions on the flow of goods to Gaza represent a “near total closure” is absurd in light of the fact that tons of food, consumer goods and medical equipment are transported freely into the Palestinian-run territory on a weekly basis. Additionally, thousands of Palestinians leave Gaza each week to conduct business outside the territory, or to receive medical treatment in Israeli or Palestinian hospitals.

Also, contrary to Whitford’s suggestion about Israel’s responsibility for the shortage of chemotherapy drugs, there are no Israeli restrictions on medical supplies entering Gaza.  Thousands of tons of medical supplies arrive in Gaza each year. Further, more than 25,000 Gazans are granted permits annually to receive medical care in Israel, the West Bank or Jordan.

The only restricted items are weapons and ‘dual-use’ items, those putatively civilian items which can be used “for the development, production, installation or enhancement of military capabilities and terrorist capacities”.   Purely humanitarian supplies have never been subject to such restrictions, even during wartime.

Regarding Whitford’s specific claim that radio isotopes are forbidden “despite having no potentially dangerous application”, we contacted COGAT:

email to cogat

Here’s their reply:

cogat reply

As far as Whitford’s claim that “Gaza’s surgeons are prevented from travelling out to attend conferences or further develop their skills”, earlier this year the MFA reported that Israel routinely coordinates the movement of doctors from Gaza to the West Bank “for continuing education projects and conferences”.  Additionally, between January and June of 2015 alone, 1,300 medical professionals reportedly entered into Israel to take educational seminars.

As we’ve noted previously, shortages of medical equipment and other shortages affecting medical care in Gaza appear to be largely due to “long-standing disputes between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas“.  During Operation Protective Edge, Hamas even reportedly stole medical aid sent by the PA to Palestinians in the Strip.

Remarkably, not only does Whitford fail to note the intra-Palestinian disputes, she doesn’t mention the word “Hamas” once in her entire op-ed. The legal blockade and other restrictions were of course implemented in the first place to stop the flow of weapons to Hamas, a proscribed terror group which has fired thousands of deadly rockets at innocent civilians. 

We’ve contacted Guardian editors regarding the specific erroneous claims in Whitford’s op-ed, and will update this post when we receive a reply. 

UPDATE, May 25: The Guardian rejected our complaint, alleging that “radio isotopes used in bone scans or for guided biopsy of axillary lymph nodes” are indeed forbidden entry into Gaza. Links they provided at least suggests that such “radio isotopes” have at some point been restricted due to their dual-use capacity.  

41 replies »

  1. Dr Whitford’s accusations of Israel are just par for the course.

    Her choice of helping Palestinians, well supplied with money and sympathisers, instead of the desperately needy Syrians and other ME refugees is made significant by the fact that she accuses Israel, both directly and by implication, of all the ills that plague the unfortunate citizens of the Hamas-governed Gaza.

    These people are the victims of internal Palestinian jockeying for power and of aid grabbing by the blood-thirsty Hamas, using all available money to further their aim in ridding the world of Israel & its Jews.

    Shame on her as a medical professional and a politician.

  2. This lady doctor (consider addressing her a lady a highly exaggerated formality) learnt a lot from her (also doctor) teacher dr. Goebbels. Anyway – a./ radioactive isotopes could be used for poisoning millions of Israelis if they fell in the wrong hands, b./ as a (supposedly) medical professional this clown of a Jew-hater should take a look into professional literature and read something about the difference between Israel and Gaza regarding the preventive practices like the strongly suggested mammography etc. obviously in Scotland the medical professionals didn’t realize that there is a strong connection between preventive screening and breast cancer lethality, they are some decades behind the world in this respect too, not only in infrastructure like motorways with two tracks for cars driving for the two opposite directions known in every other countries of the world. I hope they know about disposable hypos used outside Scotland even in Gaza.

  3. A poster with the moniker “thelearner” posted this valuable correction to the misuse of the Harvard study results in Whitford’s article (see the excerpt above) to strengthen her lying attack on Israel:

    ” A Harvard Medical School study has shown that five-year survival rates for breast cancer patients are as low as 30-40%, compared with around 85% in England.”

    This is a prime example of lying with statistics.

    Missing here are the following:

    Although 90% of WIG ( Women in Gaza ) were willing to undergo a mammogram for a breast complaint, only 27% were willing to have a screening mammogram.

    Breast cancer screening was not a priority for 49% of WIG, and only 25% reported having had a prior clinical breast examination.

    The majority of WIG (88%) were aware that mammography is helpful in early detection of breast cancer, however, almost half(49%) thought mammography may cause cancer, 9% thought that mammography can treat breast cancer and 17% thought mammography was painful

    Source: The Harvard Medical School study cited by the author.

    While it is clear that women in Britain have a higher survival rate for cancer than women in Gaza, this is mainly because the earlier you detect cancer the higher the chance of survival.

    The women in Gaza need to be educated about the need to screen first, before putting the blame on Israel.

    • There you go – how dare you use mere facts when leftists are in the middle of an anti-Semitic rant?!? Don’t you know their opinion trumps mere facts?

    • A couple of years ago there was a story about Israeli ‘apartheid’ because Israeli Muslims have a shorter life span than Israeli Jews. The EuroNazis were all on board how terrible Israel was. Then somebody looked at the numbers and found that not only did Israeli Muslims have a longer life span than all but two Muslim countries, but also longer than Muslims in EuroNazi countries, by a lot, especially France.

      Go figure if you cherry pick the numbers enough anybody can be demonized.

    • “left-wing commentator, Owen Jones, describing it as ‘rampant unashamed racism’ ” – this vile little creep has no idea what the word ‘racism’ means.

      • peterthehungarian –

        RE: – “Reminds me to the legal processes of the good old socialist Hungary.”

        No doubt exactly the same thought sprang to mind when you saw Labour following an identical procedure to investigate antisemitism allegations laid against members. But I don’t recall you drawing this parallel in previous threads, so maybe you’d now like to confirm…?

        • Basner you are not able to imagine size of the shit heap I would give for the events in the UK Labour Party – an obvious collection of die hard Jew-haters from a./ the Muslim community of the UK and b./ the ever adolescent British chattering classes and middle class including its “as a Jew” component.
          My comparison meant that in Hungary and other socialist countries if you complained about your party-member neighbor because he skinned a living stray cat in order to sell its flesh on the black market then you have been arrested for being a agitator for eating unhealthy food.
          And btw. 1./ do you think that the suspended members are not antisemites but the victims of the Zionist controlled media?
          2./ Do you think that a European mainstream party musn’t investigate its openly and clearly antisemitic members?
          3./ Do you really think that the first member who must be investigated is the one who tried to fight against this phenomenon?
          No need to answer Basner – these are only rhetorical questions I know your answers are three definite YES.
          File under: Basner the gift who never stops giving.

          • @peterthehungarian –

            1. “…do you think that the suspended members are not antisemites …?

            (a) I don’t know whether they’re antisemites or not. INVESTIGATIONS are being held into their activities and/or statements to determine this. Hopefully, some semblance of justice will then prevail rather than “denouncements” based on out-of-context quotes.

            2.” Do you think that a European mainstream party musn’t [sic] investigate its openly and clearly antisemitic members?”

            No, that’s not what I think. I believe it should investigate them – along with all members accused of being “openly and clearly” racist, Islamophobic, sexist, homophobic, or in some other way bigoted.

            3. Do you really think that the first member who must be investigated is the one who tried to fight against this phenomenon?

            No, I don’t …. but since I’ve read nothing to suggest this IS happening, I can’t for the life of me see why you’ve raised it as a question.

            • MiranDUH bleated something about “racist, sexist, homophobic, or in some other way bigoted.” people.

              Tell us how women and girls, gays, non-Muslims are treated under Taliban, Muslim Brotherhood, Boko Haram, ISIS, Al Qada, Labooor Party.

            • I don’t know whether they’re antisemites or not.
              Suggesting that Israeli Jews must be deported to the US, that the Jews are responsible for executing an English king in the XVII. century and that the Zionist were Hitler’s ally in the persecution of the German Jews, that Jews won’t vote for Livingstone because they are all rich… and you don’t know. Why should you?
              along with all members accused of being “openly and clearly” racist, Islamophobic, sexist, homophobic, or in some other way bigoted.
              So do you agree that they must investigate 99% of their Muslim members?
              but since I’ve read nothing to suggest this IS happening, so you didn’t read the article we are discussing..,,,
              Basner you are funnier and funnier… I have a feeling that you are paid by the Zionist World Alliance for demonstrating the amazing stupidity of your kind of Jew-haters masquerading as “human rights advocates”, and believe me you are worth of every penny they are spending. Your service of the Zionist cause is invaluable.

              • @peterthehungarian –

                1. Your “summaries” of the statements being investigated are so distorted and – in at least one case – such complete fantasy that they would be dismissed by any inquiry within seconds.

                I looked at two in some depth following your post – Ken Livingstone’s reported comments on “rich Jews” and the reference he made to Hitler/Zionism:

                The first was at a meeting with Jewish Labour members where he said rich people IN GENERAL didn’t support Labour and then pointed out – since Jewish votes were SPECIFICALLY under discussion – that British Jews fell into this demographic. Those at the meeting disagreed with his analysis, saying that research “demonstrates the Jewish community in the UK has a propensity to vote much more radically than its wealth” which Livingstone then “begrudgingly accepted”. ( .)

                Sure, one can criticise Livingstone’s failure to take factors other than “wealth” into account when rallying mass-votes, but to accuse him of anything worse than faulty strategic reasoning based on an overly simplistic socialist stereotype of “The Rich” and INCLUDING British Jews (who do, incidentally, occupy the top wealth echelon demographically) in that broad stereotype is a paranoid leap too far.

                Much more seriously inaccurate was your rendering of Livingstone’s Hitler/Zionism comment. (a) He did NOT say Zionists were “Hitler’s ally” but that Hitler had “initially supported Zionism” – thus turning Livingstone’s quote completely on its head. And (b) he most definitely didn’t expand this into an assertion that Zionists “were Hitler’s ally in the persecution of the German Jews”. You simply MADE THAT BIT UP.

                2. Re: The “article we are discussing” (@ ). This didn’t say Rod Liddle was the “first” member to be investigated – as you claimed it did – and it was that piece of nonsense I took issue with.

                • In short Basner you are in the Jew-hater washing business too. But this is understandable. Naturally Ken Livingstone is not an anti-semite but an anti-Zionist like you. And you think that his assertion saying he can’t be an antisemite because he hates only the Israeli Jews is the proof that he is not a racist bigot Jew-hater. Keep it up Basner – the Mossad won’t pay you for nothing….

                • “I looked at two in some depth following your post…”

                  How much depth exactly?
                  Did you contact any of those who were there, or are you relying on a letter to the press?

                  Just more of the falsifications, half-truths, and downright lies that you rely on to support your posts and the claims in them.
                  Mad Cow Miranda why would anyone take anything you write with anything other than a large pinch of salt when you have clearly demonstrated time and time again that your posts and claims, like you, have no credibility or substance whatsoever

                    • I take your point leah.
                      From her photo it looks like the anti-Semitic bucket of lard has already been overfed.

                  • @Gerald –

                    The Jewish Chronicle piece I linked @ wasn’t a “letter to the press”. It was the full text of a letter of complaint written by Labour-supporting Jews to Ed Milliband about Ken Livingstone.

                    Must say I’m amazed that you thought it contained “falsifications, half-truths, and downright lies” since this was the letter that prompted all the “Rich Jews” furore to which @peterthehungarian referred. I can only suppose you didn’t even read the HEADLINE before firing off about my levels of “depth” and “credibility” from your playground-level perch.

                    • Mad Cow Miranda you have STILL not answered the question which was,
                      “How much depth exactly?
                      Did you contact any of those who were there, or are you relying on a letter to the press?”

                      So the answer is…?
                      Or are you going to avoid answering the question as you normally do.

                    • @Gerald –

                      RE: “How much depth exactly?

                      I read a variety of reports and commentaries in the public domain – both critical of Livingstone and defending him – and quoted one DIRECT report sent to Miliband by Jews who did attend the meeting. (It was not, as you insist on so mindlessly repeating, a “letter to the press”.)

                      What this amounts to is a damn sight more depth than you evidently attempted before expressing an opinion about how “wrong” I am. Were YOU at the meeting? Did YOU contact anyone involved? Or do depth “yardsticks” like these only apply to those you disagree with – and, God forbid, not to yourself?

                      Your answer is….?

                    • Mad Cow Miranda to cut through your usual bluster and bullshit attempt at obfuscation the answer is that you did not look at anything in depth as you claimed.
                      No wonder you have absolutely no credibility.
                      You, and your ‘posts’, are greeted with the justifiable derision and contempt you so richly deserve.

                    • @Gerald –

                      I learned as a seven-year-old how to cope with the “derision and contempt” of Jew-hating schoolyard bullies. Now that I’m in my sixties, do you seriously suppose your juvenile taunts and name-calling will send me scuttling away in tears?

                      If so, you need urgent help with that retarded development problem you have.

                    • Mad Cow Miranda it is nice of you to confirm, and demonstrate yet again that your only response is bluster and bullshit.
                      It is also typical of the hypocrisy that you, and your ilk, slither back into when you condemn ‘name calling’ then indulge in it your self.

                      But the fact is, YOU claimed to have “looked in some depth” when it is self-evident, and confirmed by your continuing attempts at obfuscation, that your claim is a lie. Not a surprise as I wrote above all your claims and ‘posts’ are based on falsifications, half-truths, and downright lies.

                      Now be a good troll and vanish back into the slimy underworld you belong in, my patience with your bluster, bullshit, lies and hypocrisy is stretched to the limit.

            • 1. Basner “doesn’t know”. She’ll wait to be told what to think. She has no opinion as to whether someone advocating moving all Israeli Jews to America (certainly not to England !), or calling Hitler a zionist should be considered antisemitic.

              2. Basner can’t conceive of an investigation into antisemitism on its own merits. It must include other possible forms of discrimination which she and her like-minded cohorts worry about constantly without ever showing concern about antisemitism, instead giving it cover through negative slants of Israel and its supporters.

              • Of course you learned how to cope more than fifty years ago. You couldn’t beat them so you joined them. Simple and it worked for you well. You are the good Jew so you will be protected – until they have bad ones to bully. Then unavoidably you will be the next victim of their bullying. But I agree that this scenario is very unlikely because thanks to a strong Israel they can only vent their impotent rage on the web instead running to the headmaster’s office whining that the supposed victim kicked the shit out of them.

    • He thinks it was this brilliant bon mot that got him suspended:

      ““If you handed over Israel to the Palestinians they would turn it into Somalia before you could say Yom Kippur,”

      Absolutely brilliant!

      • And so true the bit at the end where he tongue in cheek says “sorry i slipped I meant to say Switzerland …” too funny!

        However I think Venezuela is probably nearer the mark now!

  4. The article is an utter disgrace. Written by an ill-informed prejudiced individual who is given a platform by the malicious Guardian to spread misinformation.

    Hats off to Adam Levick for exposing more Guardian mischief.

  5. This Guardian Racist Rag needs to be given the Coup De Grace to put it out of it’s misery….

    • There should be a campaign to demand that companies cease advertising in the the fascist Der Guardian.

      Put financial pressure on Der Guardian to submit to Journalistic Integrity and NOT Socailist Fascist Sharia Taqiyya.

  6. The Guardian is bleeding profusely and is on life support….., they lost $65 million last year,their budget is being cut,….250 jobs being cut…… and 60 vacancies will not be filled…..Money that is being flushed down a toilet can’t go on forever….

  7. If free and fair elections were to be called in Gaza,,,,,,How many Hamas members would face the same fate that the PLO members faced…The chances of free elections happening in Gaza are…..Zero Zilch Efes…..