Palestinian with Aids barred from Israeli hospital

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The Independent Online

A Palestinian Aids patient has been denied permission to leave Gaza for treatment in Israel despite warnings by senior Israeli clinicians that the case is urgent.

The man is being blocked by the military from leaving Gaza although he has been undergoing an extended course of treatment at a Tel Aviv hospital, and a written demand has been made by six leading Aids experts and the chairman of the Israeli Medical Association that he be allowed to return there.

The condition of the patient, who suffers from haemophilia and is understood to have become HIV-positive as a result of a contaminated blood transfusion in the occupied Palestinian territories, has recently deteriorated and he is in hospital in Gaza, which has no advanced facilities for treating Aids.

The Israeli Defence Forces said the man posed a "security threat" but were unable to elaborate further, referring enquiries to the domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet.

The agency said it could not respond to an enquiry without being given the name of the patient, which has not been disclosed to protect his confidentiality.

Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHR) said he had been denied entry into Israel on 19 December by troops at the main Erez crossing from Gaza, and a subsequent request by PHR to the army's "humanitarian hotline" on 5 January that he be admitted had also been turned down.

A further request on 12 January for the man to be allowed into Israel had also been refused despite professional opinions stressing the medical importance of his doing so by two senior medics, including Dr Itzik Levi, the director of the Aids service, at Tel Hashomer Hospital, where the man was being treated.

PHR said yesterday in a statement that the patient's "life is in danger" and added that Gaza medics had advised that it was impossible for him to be treated in Egypt which has a border crossing with Gaza.

It added: "The professional treatment he needs is available at Tel Hashomer Hospital. In addition, the patient's case is familiar to the medical staff, as he has been treated there in the past."

PHR's spokesman, Shabtai Gold, said last night that even if the patient posed a potential danger to Israeli civilians or others "the security forces could surely find appropriate ways round that".

He said that dangerous criminals and others in Israeli prisons are still entitled to, and receive, medical treatment "which is a basic human right".