The 2,000 cancer patients in the Gaza Strip have terrible health conditions as they receive no appropriate care or therapy.
Gaza Region: Saida Barbakh sits in her wheelchair and surveys the packed classroom of the United Nations-run school she currently resides in in Khan Younis. She lets out a long sigh.
The prescription for the 62-year-old patient with bone cancer had ran out a few days prior. She had received treatment in the Al Makassed Hospital in occupied East Jerusalem, and on October 5, two days before the war started, she returned to the Gaza Strip after a difficult but successful surgery.
“I had a scheduled follow-up appointment for a medical examination after two weeks,” she states. “I didn’t think there would be this much danger.”
It is hardly ideal to lodge ill patients in the UN-run schools, where 725,000 displaced Palestinians have sought refuge from Israeli bombing for over a month. The absence of clean running water, food, bedding, electricity, and proper restroom facilities is causing an outbreak of ailments, mostly skin rashes, respiratory infections, and diarrhea, in the schools.
Barbakh remarked, “I feel like I need care and sleep because I can’t move around much in this wheelchair.” “It’s really awful to be living through this ugly and painful war with cancer.”
Originating from Bani Suhaila, a community east of Khan Younis, Barbakh first had treatment for his cancer in the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital, the only facility of its kind in the Gaza Strip.
However, because to Israel’s ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip, the hospital was forced to close on November 1st after running out of fuel. According to the Ministry of Health, the structure had also suffered significant damage from frequent Israeli assaults on the neighborhood. Since October 7, over 11,000 Palestinians have lost their lives as a result of Israeli shelling of Gaza.
Barbakh was one of seventy cancer patients who were evacuated from the hospital and sent south. She and her family were forced to remain at a shelter school after Israeli airstrikes destroyed her home and left most of the surrounding region abandoned.
Only clinical treatment is offered.
The lives of these seventy cancer patients are seriously in danger due to inadequate treatment and follow-up care, according to Mai al-Kaila, the health minister for the Palestinian Authority.
As a result of the continuous Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip and the mass displacement, al-Kaila stated that the 2,000 cancer patients there are experiencing “catastrophic health conditions.”
The Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital’s director, Subhi Sukeyk, stated that the medications had ran out more than a month after the conflict began.
Sukeyk said Al Jazeera that “specialized treatments for cancer patients, such as chemotherapy and treatment that combines several medications, cannot be provided.” “There is no safe place in Gaza at all, but some patients were transferred to Dar Essalam Hospital in Khan Younis, which they say is safe.”
According to him, Dar Essalam Hospital offers patients basic clinical care but cannot provide medications or cancer therapy.
However, he said, some cancer patients have requested to die with their families at the shelter schools since they are aware that the hospitals are unable to treat them.
“We lose two or three cancer patients every day,” stated Sukeyk. He claims that four of the patients
There aren’t many patients at the Turkish Friendship Hospital anymore. Salem Khreis, a 40-year-old leukemia sufferer, is one of them.
“There’s no medication or cure,” he declared. “The pain is unbearable; words cannot express it.”
Although Khreis stated he appreciated the doctors’ unwavering support for his patients, he added there is nothing more the doctors can do.
passed on the night they were moved from the Turkish Friendship Hospital. The six patients passed away the night before.
“They tell us they are with us and they stand with us, but they are so sad and helpless because of how much suffering we are going through,” he added.
Can the siege kill us? Is our cancer diagnosis insufficient for Israel? Deliver us from this unfairness.
The health minister of Turkey announced last week that his nation and Egypt had reached an agreement to transfer 1,000 cancer patients and other injured people in Gaza who need immediate medical attention to Turkey. There were no more details provided.
No authorized medical referrals or permissions
The 16-year Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip has put a strain on the region’s medical infrastructure. Prior to October 7, according to Sukeyk, he sent the Health Ministry around 1,000 medical referrals for cancer patients annually so they could receive the appropriate care and treatment in more specialized facilities outside of the area under siege.
A request for a medical permission must be made by patients and their family members, and it may only be granted by the Israeli Coordination and Liaison Administration. Before the conflict, over 20,000 people annually—nearly a third of them children—asked Israel for permission to leave the Gaza Strip in order to receive medical care.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in 2022, Israel granted approval for around 63% of all petitions pertaining to medical departure.
That has all stopped completely. In order to create place for the injured, hospitals that are overflowing due to the large number of Palestinians injured in Israeli assaults have begun to discharge cancer patients.
Sukeyk stated that a portion of the cancer patients who were awaiting their medical licenses have passed away, but the confusion of the conflict prevents her from verifying the precise figure.
He declared, “If a patient hasn’t been receiving treatment, then the cancer will eventually spread throughout their body and they will pass away.”Reem Asraf has ran out of medicines as well. She suffers from thyroid cancer. She was intended to receive treatment at Al Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem, but since October 7, the northern Beit Hanoon crossing—known to Israelis as Erez—has not been operational.
Asraf had two operations, one of which was to remove a tumor from her neck, but she still need monitoring and more care.
She was forced to leave her Gaza City home and spoke from Khan Younis. “I cannot move or even stand due to the deterioration of my health and the lack of painkillers necessary for my condition,” she added.
“Words cannot express the suffering we cancer patients endure in the face of these scenes of death and destruction.”