Palestine: She died crying, unable to speak, and alone

“She died crying, unable to speak, and alone”; five-year-old Palestinian girl from Gaza dies after enduring her treatment alone.

By Myriam Purtscher

Aisha died shortly after returning home to the Al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza Strip after being treated for brain cancer. Five-year-old Palestinian girl from Gaza, Aisha Al-Lulu, has died on 18 May after her family was denied from accompanying her during her medical treatment in Jerusalem.

The five-year-old underwent a complex operation to remove a cancerous tumour from the brain stem and died due to complications after surgery.
Quds News Network has reported the Israeli government repeatedly refused to grant Aisha’s family permits to visit during her treatment under the pretext of security concerns.
Because the Lulu family was prevented from escorting their child, a woman in the occupied West Bank volunteered to accompany her from the Erez crossing (Beit Hanoun in Arabic) on 17 April.
The family said they reached out to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah to intervene, but received no response from them.
In an interview, Aisha’s father Sam Lulu said that he also appealed to local media and officials, including PA Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh, to coordinate and allow the relatives to accompany Aisha. However, the families pleas were “ignored”.
Minister of Health Mai Alkaila said in a statement that Aisha’s case is a reflection of the oppression and suffering of the Palestinian people living under Israeli occupation.
“How can a little child travel alone through Israeli checkpoints without being escorted by her mother, father or brother to provide her with affection and psychological support during treatment?” Alkaila said.
“Aisha had to fight her disease alone, in a blatant disregard to international agreements, covenants and treaties on human rights, children’s rights, the right to health and access to health services in a safe manner,” added the Minister.
According to Days of Palestine, those who witnessed her last moments said that “she died crying, unable to speak, and alone”.
Medical permits and family companions routinely denied
Palestinians in Gaza requiring vital medical treatment in Jerusalem or the West Bank can only exit the enclave through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing with an Israeli approved permit.
The majority of patient referrals from Gaza are to hospitals in the West Bank, principally to the major referral centres in East Jerusalem that provide specialised health services unavailable elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territories.
According to WHO, “the ability of Gaza’s hospitals to provide adequate diagnosis and treatment to cancer patients is severely limited due to chronic shortages of medicines and lack of medical equipment.”
Israel’s occupation and blockade have meant that “the ability of Gaza’s hospitals to provide adequate diagnosis and treatment to cancer patients is severely limited due to chronic shortages of medicines and lack of medical equipment.”
In 2017, Israeli authorities approved only 54 per cent of medical permit applications, the lowest rate since the World Health Organization (WHO) began collecting figures in 2008.
WHO reported that 54 Palestinians, 46 of whom had cancer, died in 2017 following denial or delay of their permits.
Patients who require a companion, like children and the elderly, also need permission to leave.
In 2018, there were 2,491 applications for permits to pass the Erez crossing to accompany patients. Only 52 per cent (1,301) patient companion applications were approved, while 256 applications (10%) were denied and 934 (38%) remained pending on the date of the patient’s medical appointment.
According to WHO, “Restrictions to accessing essential health services are one of the major barriers to the right to health for Palestinians” living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
“Every cancer patient has the right to health.”

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