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Gaza: No rights, little mercy
Tuesday, January 22, 2008 :GAZA CITY, 21 January (IPS) - Seventy-six-year-old Mustapha al-Jamal goes door to door, looking for help in finding medicines for his son. At home, the 53-year-old son Yahya al-Jamal lies back, staring at the ceiling. By his side, an oxygen cylinder keeps him going for now. "My son's condition continues to worsen," Mustapha says.
"We've been waiting two months for the medicines."
Last year Mustapaha's 44-year-old daughter, a mother of six, died of breast cancer. She had been recovering, but the Israeli siege blocked supply of medicines, and no one could then save her.
Mustapha sees the same happening again. Yahya's cancer started in his kidney, spread to his right lung, and now affects his liver.
Twice, on 20 July and 2 October last year, Yahya was allowed passage to Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv. On the second visit the hospital agreed to give the family 28 tablets worth 35,500 shekels (9,000 dollars).
Transfer to an Israeli hospital now could give Yahya medication and hope again, but Israeli officials have refused passage for medical care, citing the oxygen cylinder as a "security risk."
The medicines given to Yahya earlier were no donation; Israel deducts the cost of medicines for Palestinian patients treated in Israeli hospitals from the taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Israel retains rather than disburses the bulk of such payments. The PA continues to pay for medication whenever possible.