Gaza Cancer Patients Miss Treatment as Israel Border Shut amid Fighting

Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish the fire inside an apartment that was hit by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Friday, May 12, 2023. (AP)
Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish the fire inside an apartment that was hit by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Friday, May 12, 2023. (AP)
TT

Gaza Cancer Patients Miss Treatment as Israel Border Shut amid Fighting

Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish the fire inside an apartment that was hit by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Friday, May 12, 2023. (AP)
Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish the fire inside an apartment that was hit by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Friday, May 12, 2023. (AP)

Gaza resident Dina El-Dhani was due to meet her oncologist this week at a hospital in Jerusalem, but she has been unable to cross into Israel since the border was closed amid heavy fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants.

Dhani is one of 432 cancer patients who have not been able to receive treatment since Tuesday, when Israel launched attacks on the Islamic Jihad militant group, setting off a surge in cross-border violence.

Her appointment with a doctor at Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem was meant to determine which radiation treatment she will receive.

"They told me it is delayed. Do I have to wait another two months to get a new appointment?" said 40-year-old Dhani. "The crossing is life, because as patients our treatment doesn't exist here. (The border crossing) either enhances my treatment or enhances my departure."

The four days of fighting with intense Palestinian rocket fire and Israeli air strikes has disrupted the lives of millions of people.

Israel and Egypt, citing security concerns, maintain a blockade on Gaza, which is ruled by the Hamas movement.

The crossings this week have been under the constant threat of Palestinian rocket fire and remained shut, said a spokesperson for Israel's military-run liaison with the Palestinians.

Due to shortages of medical equipment and medicine, Gaza’s hospitals are unable to provide proper care for cancer patients. So most travel to Israel, the occupied West Bank, or other countries for treatment. Palestinian health officials blame the 16-year-old blockade for undermining the development of the health sector.

"Unfortunately, we live in between two crossings and are besieged from both directions (Israel and Egypt)," said Aya Kolab, 30, who was due for a genetic test at a hospital near Tel Aviv to help her treatment.

"All my dreams stopped because the war stopped me from going, as Erez crossing is closed," she wrote on social media, referring to the main passage to Israel.

Gaza Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf Al-Qidra said the border closure has prevented 432 cancer patients from visiting hospitals in Israel, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank, 27 who are listed as "life-saving" referrals.



What Are the Challenges Faced by Hezbollah after 8 Months of Fighting Israel?

People inspect the destruction outside a charred building hit by an Israeli airstrike in the southern Lebanese town of Wadi Jilo, east of Tyre, on June 6, 2024. (AFP)
People inspect the destruction outside a charred building hit by an Israeli airstrike in the southern Lebanese town of Wadi Jilo, east of Tyre, on June 6, 2024. (AFP)
TT

What Are the Challenges Faced by Hezbollah after 8 Months of Fighting Israel?

People inspect the destruction outside a charred building hit by an Israeli airstrike in the southern Lebanese town of Wadi Jilo, east of Tyre, on June 6, 2024. (AFP)
People inspect the destruction outside a charred building hit by an Israeli airstrike in the southern Lebanese town of Wadi Jilo, east of Tyre, on June 6, 2024. (AFP)

Hezbollah is facing mounting challenges in its eight-month long conflict with Israel in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah, which unilaterally launched the fight in the South, believed that its war in support of Gaza would last a few days or week.

However, the Iran-backed party is now confronted with an open conflict that has transformed into a war of attrition of its forces and no one knows when the fight will end or whether it will develop into a wide-scale conflict against Hezbollah throughout Lebanon.

Experts said the greatest challenge Hezbollah is contending with is Israel’s ongoing assassination of its top commanders.

Political activist and Hezbollah critic Ali al-Amine said another challenge is the possibility that the conflict may spiral into a wide-scale war that the party does not want.

Such a war will lead to unpredictable changes and consequences, he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Another challenge is the extent to which Hezbollah’s security has been compromised given Israel’s “unprecedented ability in killing several of the party’s top security, military and technical officials.”

“No one predicted that it would be this compromised,” he added.

Another challenge is related to morale and politics. The party will need to regain the trust of its supporters, who believed that it was capable of deterring any Israeli assault on border towns and villages, which have been devastated during the war, al-Amine remarked.

The destruction has prompted several supporters to reconsider whether they would invest in the South - a Hezbollah stronghold - after the war is over, he noted.

04 June 2024, Lebanon, Naqoura: A Hezbollah flag is seen hanged on rubble of destroyed houses caused by Israeli air raids in the Lebanese southern village of Naqoura, located at the Lebanese-Israeli border. (Marwan Naamani/dpa)

Political and strategic affairs researcher retired general Khalil al-Helou said the greatest challenge faced by Hezbollah is the incessant assassination of its top commanders and Israel’s targeted strikes against its positions in the South.

The continuation of the fight will turn the war into one of attrition against the party, he told Asharq Al-Awsat, while dismissing Hezbollah’s shooting down of four Israeli drones.

Another challenge is that Hezbollah is greatly outgunned by Israel, especially in terms of the artillery at the country’s disposal and its air power. Hezbollah doesn’t possess artillery that can rival Israel’s.

Israel also boasts drones that can carry out precise hits, while the party has suicide drones, which can be effective, but it is unknown if they are successful in hitting their targets, Helou said.

Head of the Middle East Center for Studies and Political Research retired general Hisham Jaber said the greatest threat faced by Hezbollah is the possibility that Israel could invade Lebanon.

Hezbollah will definitely not instigate such a war, he told Asharq al-Awsat, but Israel prefers such a scenario.

Should a large-scale war happen, the destruction and casualties will be immense, and Hezbollah will be held responsible for this by internal Lebanese parties, he explained.

“Yes, Israel is being depleted and it is more in crisis than Lebanon, but the attrition is also affecting Hezbollah on all levels,” he added.

“Despite the challenges, Hezbollah cannot stop the war, because it will appear defeated. So, the war will continue and expand in the coming months, but it will not cross a certain line because ultimately a wide-scale war will lead to Iran and the United States’ involvement and they both don’t want that,” he stated.