In Gaza, Infant Dies as Health Held for Ransom

An infant has become the most recent casualty of the nearly two-year-old Israeli policy of collective punishment and its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

On Monday, the 12-month-old infant, named Muhammad Rami Ibrahim Nofal, died as doctors awaited an Israeli permit to take him outside the territory for treatment, the Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported.

The child, who died in a hospital in the southern city of Khan Yunis, had been diagnosed with severe cardiac deficiency.

As Gaza depends upon external healthcare systems for the provision of a broad range of medical treatments, the Israeli imposed military blockade forces chronically ill and terminal patients to desperately seek passage out of the coastal strip.

The mortality brings to 337 the number of deaths resulting from exit denials to the Gazan sick.

According to an August-released report by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, titled Holding Health to Ransom, Tel Aviv employs fatal illnesses as one of its "methods of coercion" to pressure Gazans and to spy on the strip.

Israel, according to the report, prevents patients from leaving Gaza to receive medical treatment unless the government in Tel Aviv is provided with desired information about their relatives.

Medical treatment for "the most helpless members of society", reads the report, "is explicitly or implicitly made contingent upon collaboration" with Israel on a "regular" basis.

"I decide and set the rules, and you’ll see that if you do as I say, I’ll let you go to Ichilov Hospital," the report quotes an interrogator as telling a patient. "It depends if you accept my demands."

Tel Aviv blockaded the coastal territory after the democratically-elected Palestinian government of Hamas took control of the area in mid-June 2007.

Egypt, which insists that its single border with Gaza is an Egyptian-Israeli transit point, treated the Palestinians accordingly and closed the vital route in 2007.

The blockade remained in effect during the late December to mid January Israeli aggression on Gaza, obstructing civilian attempts to flee the war zone.

Nearly 1,400 Palestinians lost their lives in the military operations.

According to UN agencies, the blockade imposed on the territory of nearly 1.5 million people has been tightened in recent months.

(Press TV)

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