Israel Supreme Court temporarily blocks government plan to send Palestine patients to Gaza News
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Israel Supreme Court temporarily blocks government plan to send Palestine patients to Gaza

The Supreme Court of Israel stopped a government plan to send a group of Palestinian patients to Gaza. The group, mostly cancer patients, will now be able to stay in East Jerusalem and Tel Aviv because of the Wednesday decision.

Physicians for Human Rights—Israel (PHRI), a human rights advocacy group, filed a request with the Supreme Court on behalf of the patients after CNN reported on the government’s plans. The group of patients was set to be loaded onto buses and sent to Gaza on Thursday morning, but the ruling from the high court temporarily delays that. PHRI welcomed the ruling, saying that they “succeeded – for now – in preventing the deportation of 20 Palestinian patients and their accompanying relatives back to Gaza, including children battling cancer and recovering from bone marrow transplants.”

PHRI’s Director Guy Shalev condemned the need for the high court’s action, calling the government’s attempts to send patients to Gaza immoral. “Every Israeli citizen should be alarmed by the complete lack of restraint evident in these actions,” he said. “Unless the Israeli public opens its eyes to what is being done in its name and insists on upholding clear boundaries, this moral stain will not fade away.”

Most of the patients in question were receiving care in Israel prior to Hamas’s October 7 attacks and Israel’s ongoing siege of Gaza. While some of the patients no longer required in-patient care, hospital officials told CNN that they would not force them to leave. Despite this, officials say they received significant pressure from the defense ministry to discharge the patients before the government officially decided to send them back to Gaza. Doctors described feeling helpless, with the CEO of a hospital saying, “It’s not our call, at the end of the day. And this is really frustrating. We [have not been] able to help people in Gaza since the beginning of the war. As doctors, this is our daily feeling, that we are not able to do anything.”

The patients who were set to be sent to Gaza expressed fear about returning to the besieged territory after nearly six months of war. Nima Abu Garrara, who was brought to East Jerusalem from Rafah on October 5 to give birth to twins, told CNN that she would not know where to go with her twins were she sent back to Gaza. “Where do I go with them? Where would I get diapers and milk?” She continued. “Gaza is not the same anymore. I might go back and then they invade Rafah. I’ll be the one responsible for anything that harms them. I was dying when I came here and stayed with them here to protect them.

Gaza has been decimated in the six months of war, with reports from the BBC and the Guardian showing that at least half of the buildings in the territory have been damaged or destroyed, including entire neighborhoods. Israeli strikes have hit places like medical facilities and refugee camps, and human rights groups have accused Israel of war crimes. This has had devastating impacts on civilians. More than 30,000 people have been killed—mostly civilians—while survivors face a collapsed medical system and imminent famine.

Palestinian rights groups and President Mahmoud Abbas contend that Israel’s actions amount to genocide, and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to “take all measures within its power” to prevent a “plausible” genocide in Gaza. South Africa recently asked the ICJ to approve urgent additional measures against Israel amid “widespread starvation.” Israel denies the allegations, claiming Hamas continues to embed itself in civilian facilities, and asked the ICJ to dismiss South Africa’s request.