Conflict & Justice

Human rights group accuses Israel of blackmailing sick Gazans

At a news conference, this Physicians for Human Rights official described what happens to sick Palestinians, even those with Israeli exit permits, arrive at this crossing between Gaza and Israel. She said the men are taken to an underground interrogation room and strip searched, and then the questioning begins. The questioning eventually turns to power structures within militant organizations in the Gaza Strip. She says this year more than a third of entrants were turned down, compared to just 10% last year. The report presents 32 testimonies of Palestinians who said the interrogators demanded they give information now and in the future as the price for being allowed into Israel for medical treatment. The report says the link between giving medical care and testimonies about Gaza militants began in June 2007 after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip. The report also said medical treatment in Gaza is problematic and complicated cases can't be treated there. This Defense Ministry spokesman denied the charges and so far 14,000 Palestinians have entered Israel for medical concerns, and added the Israeli government has documented 20 cases of Palestinians who have tried to abuse the system for terrorist reasons. The human rights organization has appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court to force the stopping of the practice and they've also appealed to the UN and other human rights organizations.

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