Israel removes Palestinian activists' healthcare access

Israel strips healthcare access for Palestinian activists in East Jerusalem: report
3 min read
27 May, 2021
At least 11 Palestinians, including campaigners, their relatives and ex-detainees, were affected by the move.
Lawmakers have questioned the legal basis for removing healthcare access [Getty]

Several Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem have lost access to healthcare after Israeli authorities "suspended" their healthcare and state welfare provisions, Haaretz reported on Thursday.

At least 11 Palestinians, including campaigners, their relatives and ex-detainees, were affected by the move.

A wife of one of the Palestinians was informed she would not be able to see the outcome of a pregnancy-related blood test.

Majed al-Jouba, the woman's husband, related that this was due to her being "blocked on the computer system." Haaretz reported that the policy of "blocking" was put in place five days before.

Al-Jouba is a campaigner and has previously been jailed as a "security prisoner", the Israeli daily said.

Hamza Zghayer, a friend of al-Jouba, faced similar problems.

His son had been admitted to hospital following an infection. During his stay, Zghayer learned he had lost his insurance.

"I’ve been working for 17 years in the East Jerusalem Electricity Company and have been paying my National Insurance dues the whole time, but now they tell me there’s a problem," Zghayer was quoted as saying.

"If my child is sick now, where do I take him, to Jordan?"

A top figure at an East Jerusalem medical provider told Haaretz: "The Shin Bet security agency tells the National Insurance to make their lives difficult," in reference to the body which administers welfare and other benefits in Israel.

The source added that this means they must go through a legal process to prove their residency in the occupied city. This is the basis on which Israeli state medical and other relevant provision is provided.

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Osama Saadi, a Palestinian member of Israel's parliament for the Joint List, asked Director General Meir Shpigler at the National Insurance Institute to act.

Saadi questioned the "legal basis for stopping… medical and child benefits [to those affected]."

"This is collective punishment of the insured and their families, with no legal basis and unsupported by any court ruling," Saadi said.

The National Insurance Institute claimed it was sent Saadi's plea on Wednesday afternoon, with it being published by the media before inquiries could be made.

It said each case will be probed and given an individual response "in the coming days".

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The institute also asserted that "[a]s a rule, residency in East Jerusalem is determined on the basis of evidence, and, at times, based on external investigations."

It said individuals are informed when it is found that their "life is centred outside the Jerusalem municipality", adding that they are able to dispute the decision.

Medical and other state provisions are "retroactively" restored if they are found to be what the institute calls "based in Israel", in an apparent reference to the illegal Israeli annexation of occupied Jerusalem.

Shin Bet had not made comment when Haaretz published its article.

The news follows Israeli state violence against Palestinian protesters outside a Jerusalem courtroom on Wednesday.

The protesters had been demonstrating in favour of Palestinian families from Silwan who are facing expulsion from their homes.