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Teenage patient dies in Gaza after being denied access to hospital

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A 17-year-old Palestinian boy has died in the Gaza Strip after being denied access to hospitals in the Israeli-occupied territories, a human rights group says.

The Gaza-based al-Mezan Center for Human Rights said in a report on Sunday that Ahmad Hassan Shubeir lost his life as Israel repeatedly denied him permission to leave the blockaded territory to receive treatment for a congenital heart defect.

The rights group said the teenager had “refused to serve as a collaborator for the Israeli authorities, a coercive measure regularly employed on Palestinian patients in need of permits.”

According to the report, the victim’s father said Israeli authorities had first tried to blackmail and coerce Ahmad’s mother into cooperating with Tel Aviv in return for granting her child, who fell into a critical condition, a crossing permit in February 2016. The two were later allowed to leave Gaza after being held several hours at the Erez crossing.

However, two subsequent permit requests in September and October last year went unanswered, while the Israeli authorities rejected a third one in November 2016.

The rights body further said Israeli officials “then summoned Ahmad for an interview at the crossing; during the interrogation, he was pressured to serve as a collaborator for the Israeli authorities in exchange for his permit. The child refused and was denied a permit.”

The human rights group strongly condemned “Israel’s ill-treatment of Palestinian patients of Gaza and expresses remorse at the death of Ahmad Shubeir.”

Al-Mezan also warned of the ongoing “abuse” of critically-ill Palestinian patients in the impoverished coastal enclave, who are unable to receive the required medical treatment due to the crippling Israeli blockade.

In this Sunday, January 15, 2017 photo, a Palestinian family warm themselves up with a fire outside their makeshift house during the power cut in a poor neighborhood in town of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. (Photo by AP)

“The denial of adequate medical care, which amounts to ill-treatment, is in violation of treaty and customary international law, and amounts to a prohibited collective punishment,” al-Mezan underlined.

The center further reported a decline in the number of Palestinian patients who received crossing permits last year, saying only 61 percent of them were allowed to pass through the Erez crossing in 2016, down from 77.66 percent the previous year.

According to the report, between 50 and 60 percent of the patients who were denied access to receive treatment outside Gaza in 2016 were cancer-stricken people.

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since 2007. The blockade has led to a dramatic decline in the standards of living as well as substantial levels of unemployment and poverty.

Israelis shoot Gazan fisherman

In yet another act of aggression, Israeli boats on Monday opened fire at a Palestinian fisherman near the shores of Beit Lahia in northern Gaza, seriously injuring a Palestinian fisherman.

Palestinian fishermen await the arrival of an international boat trying to break Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, at the fishermen port in Gaza City, Thursday, October 6, 2016. (Photo by AP)

The head of the Palestinian Syndicate of Fishermen, Nizar Ayesh, told Paltimes news website said Orans al-Sutlan was shot in the head and is now in critical condition.

Israel had imposed limits of three nautical miles for fishing in waters off the Gaza shore until August 2014.

Under a ceasefire agreement that ended a deadly 50-day Israeli war on Gaza back then, Tel Aviv agreed to immediately expand the fishing zone off Gaza’s coast and to allow fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles off the shore. The agreement also stipulated that Israel should expand the area gradually up to 12 miles.

Palestinian fishermen, however, say the Israeli navy opens fire on them before they reach the agreed limit.

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