Wed, Aug 04, 2010 | Israel21c | By Sara Sorcher
A Bridge of Trust
Their leaders may be in conflict with Israel, but many Palestinians from Gaza still choose to make the journey to Israeli hospitals for life-saving treatments
When a young Palestinian from the Gaza Strip was shot in the leg last year by Hamas during the ongoing conflict between the two main Palestinian political parties, Hamas and Fatah, he was offered treatment in both Egypt and Jordan, but instead he chose to go to Israel.
Gazans choose Israeli hospitals despite troubles
“When I was injured I chose to come to Israel because it’s well known that the treatment here is better than in Egypt – by a lot – or in Gaza. I had to have a microsurgery to replace a tendon in my foot, and I knew this was the best place to do it,” the man told ISRAEL21c.
He insisted that his identity be hidden, for fear of repercussions from Hamas.
The young Gazan’s presence in an Israeli hospital isn’t unique.
Every year thousands of Palestinian patients from Gaza and the West Bank are treated in Israeli hospitals across the country. Patients also come from many Arab countries, some of which still don’t even recognize Israel.
Rokon Asadi, Assuta’s Medical Rep. for Arab Community, told ISRAEL21c:
“All politics aside, Israel has a very good reputation in the world for medicine. There are many, many people who want to be treated by Israel. It just doesn’t matter to them [that it]s Israel. There would be many more patients coming from Persian countries, Arab and neighboring countries, if there wasn’t such difficulty getting their visas approved with the current political situation.”
While the region’s political situation can complicate the logistics of hospital visits, both doctors and patients at Assuta Medical Center in Tel Aviv say that medicine and medical relations are an important step to progressing peace.
“Before the last intifada [Palestinian uprising], there were 5 or 6 times as many patients coming to Assuta from the West Bank and Gaza,” Rokon Asadi told ISRAEL21c. “In my opinion, we’re building a bridge of trust. This is the only thing that’s is progressing peace: medicine, and medical relations… and it works.”
Both patients and doctors regard these vital surgeries as more than just medical treatment. Instead they see them as a unique way to help the peace process progress, by building an important “bridge of trust”.