Israel Supreme Court halts Palestinian patients’ return to Gaza

Israel’s Supreme Court temporarily halted a government plan to send 22 Palestinian medical patients in Israel, many receiving treatment for life-threatening illnesses, back to the war-torn Gaza Strip on March 20th, according to Saudi news outlet Asharq Al-Awsat and agencies and CNN.

This decision follows a petition organised by Israeli non-profit and advocacy group Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR), disclosing that many of the patients are cancer patients, new mothers, babies and older people. 

PHR-Israel said the evacuation order has endangered the lives of recovering patients, and is “against international law and poses a deliberate risk to innocent lives,” they said, “all the more so when it concerns patients who may face a death sentence due to insanitary conditions and hunger, along with the unlikely availability of medical care.”

READ: Tunisian hospitals to admit more Gazan patients

A CNN article published on March 19th that detailed the severity of the patients’ situations.

One patient, a new mother, said, “If I go back with the twins […] where do I go with them? Where would I get diapers and milk? Gaza is not the same anymore.”

Before the war began, Israel allowed Palestinians with serious conditions to enter the country for treatment not available in Gaza. Those services have all but halted since the October 7th attack by Hamas.

READ: EU chief in complete condemnation of Gaza hospital blast

Al-Shifa hospital, the territory’s largest hospital and now one of the few still functioning, was again raided on March 18th. The IDF revealed that 90 Hamas gunmen had been killed and another 160 arrested, according to Reuters. They also arrested a group of journalists, including Al Jazeera correspondent Ismail Alghoul.  

Israel’s close ally, the United States, allegedly “did not give the OK” for the IDF to storm Al-Shifa, according to National Security Spokesperson John Kirby.  

In response to a CNN inquiry, Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) confirmed that Palestinians from Gaza who “are not in need of further medical care” would be sent back to Gaza and that COGAT would coordinate with aid organisations to do so.

It remains unclear how many Palestinian medical patients remain in Israel for treatment.

Asharq Al-Awsat and agencies / CNN

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