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Gaza patients continue painful wait for urgent medical treatment Report, discount micardis The Electronic Intifada, discount micardis 21 August 2008 Ahmed Abu Shawish is confined to his home in Gaza City, discount micardis waiting for a permit to enter Israel. Discount micardis "I have been sick for more than a year now. Discount micardis Five months ago I was finally diagnosed with cancer of my bladder. Discount micardis I was working at the Islamic University here in Gaza city, discount micardis but now I am stuck at home, discount micardis and taking a diet of painkillers." Ahmed Hisham Abu Shawish is 46 years old, discount micardis but he looks older. Discount micardis His skin is tinged with grey and he sits slumped forward in his chair. Discount micardis He used to work full time at the Islamic University doing logistical support, discount micardis but these days is confined to his home in the al-Daraj district of northern Gaza City. Discount micardis He has an aggressive carcinogenic tumor, discount micardis and suffers from serious hematuria, discount micardis or blood in his urine. Discount micardis He has to attend hospital every two or three days in order to receive regular blood transfusions. Discount micardis "I go to the European Hospital in Khan Younis for my treatment" he says. Discount micardis This involves a painful journey by shared public taxi several times a week, discount micardis as the hospital is 30 kilometers away, discount micardis and the family cannot afford to pay for a private taxi to and from their home. Ahmed Abu Shawish urgently needs an operation to remove his cancer and repair the internal damage. Discount micardis "The [Palestinian] Ministry of Health referred me to Echelof Hospital in Tel Aviv for specialist treatment" he says. Discount micardis "But of course I need a permit to leave Gaza, discount micardis and my permit was denied. Discount micardis So I applied again with the help of human rights organizations." The Israeli non-governmental organization Physicians for Human Rights and the Gaza City-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) worked together to try to secure a permit for Ahmed Abu Shawish to be able to travel to Echelof Hospital. Discount micardis But on 18 August he was denied a permit once again. Discount micardis PCHR has submitted a formal complaint to the Israeli State Attorney, discount micardis outlining the urgency of Ahmed Abu Shawish's case, discount micardis and asking he be immediately issued a permit by Israel in order to travel to Echelof Hospital for his treatment. Discount micardis In the meantime, discount micardis Ahmed Abu Shawish is confined to his home, discount micardis where he lives, discount micardis and waits, discount micardis in pain, discount micardis discomfort and uncertainty. Ahmed Abu Shawish is one of hundreds of Gazans whose lives are suspended because they cannot access the medical treatment they urgently need. Discount micardis According to figures from the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MOH), discount micardis 600-700 Gazans are currently applying to Israel for permits to exit the Gaza Strip via Erez Crossing in order to access urgent medical treatment outside of the Gaza Strip, discount micardis or else already waiting for responses from the Israeli authorities to their applications that they have already submitted. Discount micardis Gazan patients are referred for medical treatment to the West Bank, discount micardis Israel or abroad only if they cannot access the appropriate treatment in Gaza. Discount micardis Nevertheless, discount micardis approximately 50 percent of those who apply for permits are denied, discount micardis although, discount micardis bar the rhetoric of "Israeli security concerns" they are never informed why they are being denied access to medical treatment that will save their health, discount micardis and sometimes their life. From June 2007 to June 2008, discount micardis PCHR documented the deaths of 40 Gazan patients, discount micardis including 13 women and nine children, discount micardis who died either because they were denied permits by Israel, discount micardis because their permits were delayed, discount micardis or because they could not obtain the medicine in Gaza that they needed in order to survive. Discount micardis The ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip has decimated Gaza's infrastructure, discount micardis stretching education, discount micardis sanitation and health services to breaking point. Discount micardis Hospitals in Gaza are simply not well enough equipped to carry out the kind of delicate and highly invasive surgery that Ahmed Abu Shawish so urgently needs. The Egypt brokered tahdia or "calming" that came into force on 19 June was supposed to see restrictions on Gazans, discount micardis including severe restrictions on freedom of movement, discount micardis being gradually lifted. Discount micardis However, discount micardis two months into the tahdia, discount micardis there have been no major changes regarding freedom of movement for the 1.5 million civilians who continue to be imprisoned inside the Gaza Strip. If Ahmed Abu Shawish does not receive a permit enabling him to travel to Echelof Hospital in Tel Aviv very soon, discount micardis he will have to resort to having his surgery inside Gaza. Discount micardis "The doctors at the European Hospital advised me to go to Israel for my treatment" he says. Discount micardis "The risks of being treated here are much bigger -- and I tell you, discount micardis I am frightened at the prospect of having surgery for my cancer here. Discount micardis How do you think I feel when even my own doctors are telling me that, discount micardis for my own sake, discount micardis I need to go and have my surgery in hospital in Israel?" This report is part of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights' Narratives Under Siege series.