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From the field

For 16 days, Israel delays arrival of Mahmud a-Najar, 15, at hospital in East Jerusalem for cancer treatment, Jan. 2011

Mahmoud a-Najar, 15

Mahmoud a-Najar

On 17 October 2010, a Monday, I was at home because it was a festival. Around 11:30 A.M., my mother returned from the market, and I went down to help carry up the things she had bought. When she saw me, she asked, “What happened to you? You’re pale.” I said I didn't know. I picked up a few bags and carried them to our apartment, which is on the fifth floor. My mother asked my brothers to take me to the doctor, but we didn't go, because we thought that it was only the flu.

My condition didn't get any better over the next few days. It got worse. I felt tired and weak most of the time and couldn’t walk a lot. On 4 December, my brothers and my uncle took me to Kamal ‘Adwan Hospital. I underwent tests and my white blood-cell count was high. I took another blood test, and the count came out high again. The doctor referred me to a-Shifaa Hospital for treatment. At a-Shifaa, the doctors took another blood count. I was hospitalized in the internal medicine department because they thought it would be difficult for me psychologically to be with cancer patients whose condition was worse. The doctors thought I had leukemia. I underwent more blood counts at a diagnostic center next to a-Shifaa, along with a spinal test. They found out for certain that I have blood cancer .

Two doctors prepared a form for treatment abroad, and my uncle Muhammad took it to the department that issues the referrals for treatment abroad. The next day, 14 December, we received the referral. My uncle made an appointment for me at Augusta Victoria Hospital, in East Jerusalem, on the 28th of December. That same day, the 14th, we received confirmation from Augusta Victoria, inviting me for treatment.

Mahmoud a-Najar in a-Shifaa hospital in Gaza City. Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B'Tselem, 12 January 2011.
Mahmoud a-Najar in a-Shifaa hospital in Gaza City. Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B'Tselem, 12 January 2011./>

My uncle took all the medical documents, the referral, and the invitation from Augusta Victoria Hospital and went, the same day, to the Ministry for Civil Affairs, in Gaza City, to apply for a permit to enter Israel. He got there at 3:00 P.M., and the office was closed. He returned the next day and submitted the request for me and my mother, so she could go with me. Then he came to visit me at the hospital, and I asked him if he submitted the request. I was very frightened because of my condition, and also because my father is ill and suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure, and liver and heart problems. My father had a permit to enter Israel. He went to Beilinson Hospital, in Israel, last week. At first, the Israelis refused to issue the permit, but he finally got it. Now, I’m waiting for the permit so I can get treatment for my illness.

I didn’t get the permit by the 28th, the day of the appointment. Somebody from the Palestinian Civil Affairs Ministry called and said that the Israeli army wanted somebody other than my mother to go with me. My uncle gave them the names of a few aunts, on both sides of the family, but all were rejected. At the end, we got a permit for an aunt on my mother’s side. On 2 January, my uncle went to the ministry to check if an answer had arrived. The clerk said the Israeli side was still studying my file.

The Israelis still are not allowing me to get treatment. The doctors told me that my kidneys are barely functioning, and that I have a swollen spleen. Two days ago (10 January), they prepared a medical report for the ministry to send to the Israelis, so we’d get the permit faster.

Now I also have pneumonia, and I am unable to walk without help. I get a blood transfusion every day. My blood tests are getting worse and my hemoglobin is down to eight.

My condition is very bad. I want to receive treatment as soon as possible. I am still young and want to live like my friends, who are in good health. I want to go back to school and my friends and to play basketball at school again.

Mahmoud Khaled a-Najar, 15, was a resident of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip. His testimony was given to Muhammad Sabah on 12 January 2011 at a-Shifaa Hospital, Gaza City.