25 July – 31 July
4 August 2011
Ref. No. 261/2011
Ra’ed ‘Azzam al-Mghari was 32 years old when he died on 25 July while undergoing cardiac surgery in the Gaza Strip after the Israeli authorities denied him access to a cardiac center in Nablus. He had suffered for more than 20 years from a hole in his heart for which he had received regular treatment in the Gaza Strip and Nablus.
Al-Haq collected the testimony of his uncle, Muhammad Salim al-Mghari, who lives in the al-Breij Camp in the Gaza Strip, on the events that sadly led to Ra’ed’s death.
Treatment in Nablus
After years of medical attention in the Gaza Strip, Ra’ed began treatment at the Arab Center for Cardiac Surgery and Blood Diseases in Nablus when in 2005 his condition worsened. On 15 June 2005, he underwent an open-heart surgery to replace his aortic valve and subsequently continued treatment at al-Shifa’ Hospital in Gaza City.
On 11 June 2010, Ra’ed’s condition worsened a second time and he received permission from the Israeli military authorities to leave the Gaza Strip to return to the Arab Center in Nablus, which offered specialised cardiac treatment crucial to Ra’ed’s health. He then returned to the Gaza Strip and continued treatment with the heart surgery specialist in al-Shifa’ Hospital, Dr. Ahmed Nassar.
Denial of Travel
On the evening of 14 July 2011, Ra’ed’s condition worsened yet again. Muhammad and several relatives took Ra’ed to al-Shifa’ Hospital where he received initial treatment. The doctors told the relatives to bring Ra’ed back on the morning of 16 July so that specialists could review his case.
On 16 July, Ra’ed went before a committee of cardiac surgeons. The head of the committee, Dr. Marwan al-Sadeq, recommended that Ra’ed receive another open-heart surgery at a hospital with greater cardiac specialisation outside the Gaza Strip in order to replace a valve and fix another. Muhammad immediately filled out the initial hospital form requesting outside treatment.
The following day, Ra’ed received approval of his request from the Department of Outside Treatment of the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Ra’ed’s cousin, As’ad Mahmoud al-Mghari, then submitted papers to the Department of Civil Affairs in Gaza City in order to get an expedited permit from the Israeli military authorities allowing Ra’ed to travel through the Erez Crossing on his way to the Arab Center in Nablus. However, on 19 July, Muhammad received a call from the Palestinian Liaison Office and was informed that the Israeli military authorities denied Ra’ed a travel permit for security reasons.
On the same day, Muhammad went to the Department of Civil Affairs in Gaza City to investigate the matter. While at the office, the Liaison Officer, Rif’at Mheisen, informed him that the Israeli authorities had refused Ra’ed a travel permit without cause. The Liaison Office ensured Muhammad that they would submit another request for a travel permit, but in the meantime would also look into transferring Ra’ed to Egypt for treatment given the worrying travel restriction.
On 22 July, Ra’ed received approval for treatment at the Nasser Medical Institute in Cairo (Egypt), however he was still waiting for a final response from the Israeli authorities to return to his doctors at the Arab Center in Nablus. Two days later on 24 July, Rif’at informed Muhammad that the request to the Israeli military authorities had been denied yet again.
In the early morning of 25 July, six days after Ra’ed’s initial request for a travel permit was denied by Israeli authorities, Ra’ed’s condition deteriorated severely and the doctors determined that transporting him to Egypt would endanger his life. The doctors were forced to perform cardiac surgery at al-Shifa’ Hospital in an attempt to save his life. Ra’ed entered the operating room at around noon that day and died during the surgery around 4:00 pm. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 6507/2011)