Geneva - The grandmother of a victim of Israel’s blockade has urged the UN Human Rights Council and its Member States to pressure Israel to end its policy of slow killing against Gaza patients, and hold the state accountable for depriving besieged Gazans of their right to movement and treatment.
Suhaila al-Masri, the grandmother of Fatima al-Masri, spoke on behalf of Euro-Med Rights Monitor at the 51st session of the Human Rights Council. She delivered a speech stating that Israeli authorities left her granddaughter to suffocate slowly by stalling the issuance of an exit permit to receive treatment abroad, which eventually caused the toddler’s death last March.
Fatima was born after eight years of fertility treatments, explained al-Masri, but died only a year and eight months later due to Israeli authorities’ refusal to approve her exit permit to receive treatment in Jerusalem. Fatima suffered from “a hole in her heart that required immediate treatment”—treatment which was unavailable in the Gaza Strip.
The al-Masri family confirmed they had completed all of the medical and administrative procedures necessary to transfer Fatima to a Jerusalem hospital. They submitted five consecutive requests for an exit permit to Israeli authorities, all of which were effectively denied, as the repeated response they got was, “The application is under review”.
In her speech to the Council, al-Masri asked what kind of security risk her granddaughter might have posed had she been allowed into Israel for treatment, emphasising the case “did not require all of [the] procedures and security checks and time spent waiting for permission” that ultimately led to the child’s death. She pointed to Fatima as one of “dozens who died as a result of Israel’s policy of delaying exit permits for Gaza patients” as part of Israel’s collective punishment policy against Gaza Strip residents since the imposition of the blockade in 2006.
Since the beginning of this year, five Gaza patients, including three children, have died as a result of Israeli authorities’ delays in approving exit permits for treatment.
I am the grandmother of Fatima al-Masri, a Palestinian girl who died in March 2022 after Israeli authorities denied her permission to leave Gaza for medical treatment. I am speaking to you on behalf of Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor and GIWEH.
Fatima was born after her parents had tried for eight years to conceive. She was a bright and beautiful child who brought us joy and happiness, yet she died at the age of one year and eight months after Israeli authorities left her to suffocate due to a hole in her heart that required immediate treatment.
After obtaining a medical transfer to Jerusalem, Fatima only needed Israeli approval in order to leave Gaza for treatment. We applied for an exit permit five times in a row, and got the same response each time: “The application is under review”.
The case of 20-month-old Fatima did not require all of these procedures and security checks and time spent waiting for permission. What kind of security risk might Fatima have posed to Israel if she had been allowed in for treatment?
Fatima, who meant everything to us in this life, was one of the dozens who died as a result of Israel’s policy of delaying exit permits for Gaza patients, the most recent of whom was six-year-old Farouk Abu Naga.
The international community and the Council’s Member States must carry out their responsibilities and put pressure on Israel to end its policy of slow killing against Gaza patients who are victims of the 16-year blockade.