The statement below, issued October 20 2010 by Physicians for Human Rights, is a single, tangible and terrible reminder of the reality of Gazan life under the long international siege imposed by Israel ‘s government, bureaucracy and army.

Rela Mazali

PHR-Israel’s Occupied Territories Department: Questioning Israel ‘s Crossing Policy in the Aftermath of a  Gaza Toddler’s Death 

Nasma Abu Lasheen died on Saturday, October 16, 2010 in Gaza after Israel failed to issue her an urgent entry permit for life-saving medical treatment at Ha-Emek Medical Center in Afula , Israel . She was two years old.

Abu Lasheen, a young resident of Gaza diagnosed with Leukemia was referred for emergency treatment in Israel on October 6, 2010. When requests to the Israeli Army for an entry permit went unanswered for several days, the family contacted Physicians for Human Rights- Israel (PHR-Israel)  for additional help.

 The very same day, on October 13, 2010, PHR-Israel contacted the Gaza District Coordination Office (DCO) demanding a permit be issued immediately to the baby and her father to enable their entry into Israel . A military approval was finally granted the next afternoon, on October 14, 2010.

Abu Lasheen’s medical condition began deteriorating rapidly and by the time the permit was received, the treating doctor in Gaza , Dr. Mohammad Abu Sha’aban, said she was too sick to travel. Nasma died in the early morning hours of October 16th.

PHR-Israel has lodged a complaint with the head of the Israeli DCO demanding an immediate inquiry into those responsible for the delayed response.  

Abu Lasheen’s death comes just days after PHR-Israel testified to the Israeli Turkel Commission  investigating the Flotilla incident, on the humanitarian situation in Gaza Strip as a result of Israel ‘s closure policy.

In their October 13th testimony, PHR- Israel pointed to the rising numbers of Gaza patients denied exit for treatment in hospitals outside the Strip, a phenomenon that has intensified since Israel ‘s closure policy worsened in June 2007.

For patients, a delayed or denied permit could mean the difference between quality of life and preventable pain and suffering, and in some cases, even the difference between life and death, as demonstrated by the Abu Lasheem case.

PHR- Israel calls on the Israeli authorities at Erez Crossing to investigate those responsible for the delays involved in Nasma Abu Lasheen’s case. PHR- Israel reiterates its demand that Israel fulfill its obligations vis-à-vis the residents of Gaza by ensuring them full and timely access to medical treatment  not available in the Gaza Strip. 

For more information, please contact Ran Yaron,

Director of PHR-Israel’s Occupied Territories

Department by phone: +972-54-7577696, or via e-mail

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