Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh’s brother-in-law was treated in an Israeli hospital some four months ago for a heart condition, news agencies reported earlier this month. After suffering a serious cardiac episode, Haniyeh’s brother-in-law filed an urgent entry request with Israel in order to receive treatment. After entry was granted, he and his wife, Suhila Abd el-Salam Ahmed Haniyeh — the Hamas prime minister’s sister — traveled to Israel and stayed for about one week where the husband received treatment. The two reportedly chose an Israeli hospital over their other option, one in Egypt.
That a Palestinian would receive medical care in Israel should not be surprising. Over the last few years Israel has granted an increasing number of entry permits to Palestinians in need of medical attention.
Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh.
According to a report released by Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, last year Israel issued 197,713 permits to Palestinians from the West Bank in need of medical treatment and for their companions, representing a 13% increase from the previous year. Meanwhile, from Gaza, 9,245 Palestinians received medical care in Israel in 2011 — a 5% increase compared to 2010. An additional 9,111 permits were provided for Gazan family members to accompany patients to hospitals. Providing even more proof that Israel does its best to treat Palestinians in need, according to the World Health Organization, in February 2012, 91.5% of Palestinian requests for medical treatment in Israel were approved and carried out.
The Israeli government and hospitals also hold workshops for Israeli and Palestinian doctors, provide training courses for doctors from the West Bank, airlift Palestinians in need from the West Bank, and coordinate outings and activities for Palestinian children in Israeli hospitals.
But when it comes to a person so close to the Hamas terror organization, one may think Israel’s policy would be different. Yet, according to an Israeli government source: “Although there are no diplomatic relations between Israel and Hamas, there are many occasions when requests for help based on purely medical decisions taken in Gaza are granted by Israel for humanitarian reasons.” It’s hard to imagine that, if the tables were turned, a Hamas government would say the same.