Gaza child dies as West Bank hospital refuses to receive him

Gaza child dies after West Bank hospital refuses to receive him
3 min read
13 January, 2022
A 16-year-old Palestinian child from Gaza has died of cancer after his medical treatment was stalled by a West Bank hospital and Israeli authorities.
Palestinians in Gaza have expressed anger at the child's death [Getty]

Residents of the besieged Gaza Strip have expressed anger after the death of a Palestinian child who was ill with cancer

Salim al-Nawati, 16, was supposed to attend medical procedures at a West Bank hospital but Israel, which controls crossings from the Gaza Strip, prevented him from doing so.

His condition deteriorated shortly afterwards and this led to his death. 

Two months ago, al-Nawati's family discovered that he had leukemia after he received a dose of the vaccine against the coronavirus.

"For more than 45 days, we fought to get a permit to allow my child to leave the Gaza Strip, but Israel refused to give us permission three times, and the fourth time we got it,"  Omar al-Nawati, the boy's father told The New Arab.

Al-Nawati however also accused Al-Najah Hospital in the West Bank city of Nablus of responsibility.

"Al-Najah Hospital in refused to receive my son, under the pretext that there are accumulated debts on the Ministry of Health, and it could not receive any new cases," he said with a breaking voice.

"We tried in various ways to persuade the hospital administration to receive him but they refused. But after several attempts, an Israeli hospital agreed to receive him, on the condition that he returns to Gaza first and then re-enters Israel."

However, the child died on his way to Gaza, says the father, blaming Israel and the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the West Bank for his son's death.

"Unfortunately, the Ministry of Health in Ramallah differentiates between Gaza patients and West Bank patients, as if we were second-class citizens," he says.

Gazans expressed their outrage at the child's death for "preventable reasons," accusing the Ministry of Health of "financial and administrative corruption."

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Ziyad Abdel Jawad, a Gaza resident told The New Arab that Salim's treatment was inhumane. 

"Where is the humanity that doctors and the ministry are calling for.... What is the fault of an innocent child for dying like this without finding his way to treatment? Unfortunately, we live in a world that belongs to only to Palestinian officials and the wealthy."

Suhad Hamada, another resident of Gaza, told The New Arab that "Gaza's patients are victims of the Israeli siege as well as Palestinian division and financial and administrative corruption in the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas government."

"Can such a crime happen to any of the officials' children if they were diagnosed with cancer? Of course not. Only the citizens always pay the price for the political situation," she lamented. 

Many people in Gaza called for an impartial and urgent investigation into the death of the 16-year-old child, saying that those responsible should be brought to justice.