'Shin Bet decides who'll die in Gaza'

Aug. 3, 2008
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) is the arbiter of life and death for 
gravely ill Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, the NGO Physicians for Human 
Rights charged in an 83-page report released early Monday morning. 

The report includes dozens of pages of testimony by 11 Gazan citizens whom the 
Shin Bet has allegedly questioned and tried to pressure into providing 
intelligence information in return for permission to cross into Israel on their 
way to medical treatment outside the Gaza Strip. 

According to the report, entitled Holding Health to Ransom, PHR charged that 
Shin Bet interrogators question Palestinians who have applied (and often 
already received) exit permits to enter Israel on their way to urgent medical 
treatment in Israel, the West Bank or Jordan. According to the report, the 
interrogators demand that the patients provide intelligence information in 
return for permission to leave. 

"The conduct and policy of the Shin Bet have turned patients' vulnerability 
into a primary means for obtaining security information," the authors of the 
report charged. "Long waiting times, questioning of the patient about himself 
and his acquaintances and appropriation of cellphones to extract phone numbers 
of family members and acquaintances are all part of the harsh atmosphere in 
which the patient is aware that his refusal to respond may bar him from exiting 
Gaza for much-needed treatment. 

"Once the Shin Bet has established control over a patient, permitting medical 
treatment is explicitly or implicitly made contingent upon collaboration." 

In the past, PHR raised these charges in a petition filed in the High Court of 
Justice which included several affidavits by Palestinians from Gaza who 
complained about ISA pressure and coercion. The court replied in its ruling 
that it had "taken note of the security body's statement that no use is made of 
a person's illness to obtain information in the realm of security." 

One of the testimonies in the report involved a Gaza resident about 38 years 
old named Aleph, who suffered from Hodgkin's lymphoma and needed to undergo a 
PET/CT scan. The appointment, set for Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, had to be 
punctual because the procedure required isotopes which would die out within 
minutes of the appointed time. 

According to the description of Aleph's experience, "the patient arrived at 
Erez Crossing early in the morning and was made to wait there for hours. When 
he finally went in for questioning, his interrogators demanded that he 
collaborate and threatened that unless he responded to their demand, they would 
prevent his entry into Israel. 

"Then," continued Aleph, "he said, you have cancer and it will soon spread to 
your brain. As long as you don't help us [you can] wait for Rafah Crossing [to 

According to the report, Aleph was forced to wait 10 hours at Erez. By the time 
the permit was authorized, the isotopes had died out and there was no point in 
his going to the hospital. 

In response to the PHR report, the Shin Bet released a statement in which it 
categorically denied that it issued entry permits for medical care to 
Palestinians who provided intelligence information. 

"The Shin Bet does not make receipt of an entry permit into Israel for 
humanitarian reasons contingent on an applicant's willingness to submit any 
information, except for reliable information on his medical condition," the 
statement read. 

The evaluation process, the Shin Bet said, was aimed at eliminating a potential 
threat or danger posed by the applicant. "The Shin Bet determines its position 
on each case by making the proper balance between risk assessment and medical 
necessity," the statement read. 

The agency cited two cases when Palestinians from Gaza tried using entry 
permits granted to them for medical purposes to perpetrate suicide bombing 

One case was in May 2007 when two women who had received permits to enter 
Israel on false medical grounds were caught at Erez on their way to carry out a 
double suicide attack in Tel Aviv and Netanya. The second case was in June 2005 
when a female suicide bomber was caught at Erez with an explosives belt 
strapped to her body. She had been granted a permit to enter Israel for medical 


Kirim email ke