Hawzah News Agency (Occupied territories of Palestine)- In a joint statement on Tuesday, the Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), and Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI), highlighted the immediate need for the Israeli regime to end its decade-long siege of the Gaza Strip.
In 2017, Israeli authorities approved fewer than half the medical permit requests it received, which were tied to appointments and treatment sessions in hospitals across the occupied territories- the lowest level since 2008.
More than 25,000 permit requests were submitted to Israeli authorities. Of those, 719 were refused, often under the pretext of security.
Another 11,281 applications are still pending approval - meaning thousands of people are in a state of jeopardy.
Samir Zaqout, Al Mezan director, told Al Jazeera that there is no "real rational reason" why patients in need of urgent medical assistance are denied hospital access.
"Israel is under a legal obligation to facilitate the freedom of movement of the Palestinian people," he said. "It decided when it blockaded the strip not only to deny Gazans of the right to free movement, but it also punished the ill who have a right to access healthcare."
In 2007, following the election victory of Hamas and the group's assumption of control over the territory, Israel imposed a strict land, aerial and naval blockade on Gaza.
In 2013, neighbouring Egypt, which has largely closed its border crossing with Gaza, blocked tunnels connecting Gaza with Egypt's el-Arish, shutting off the only other route out of the strip.
The main alternative is a path via the Erez crossing, which transfers people to the occupied territories.