On June 13, HonestReporting Canada brought our concerns to the Toronto Star’s attention regarding an Associated Press article that the Star published to its website the day prior entitled: “Sick Gaza child caught in Israeli permit regime dies alone”.
The AP’s article stated the following in the first three paragraphs (emphasis added):
When Palestinian preschooler Aisha a-Lulu came out of brain surgery in a strange Jerusalem hospital room, she called out for her mother and father. She repeated the cry over and over, but her parents never came.
Instead of a family member, Israeli authorities had approved a stranger to escort Aisha from the blockaded Gaza Strip to the east Jerusalem hospital. As her condition deteriorated, the child was returned to Gaza unconscious. One week later, she was dead.
A photo of Aisha smiling softly in her hospital bed, brown curls swaddled in bandages, drew an outpouring on social media. The wrenching details of her last days have shined a light on Israel’s vastly complex and stringent system for issuing Gaza exit permits.”
With respect to this article, Israel’s COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) has several weeks ago refuted claims that a Gazan cancer patient, Aisha a-Lulu, died alone at a hospital in Jerusalem allegedly because Israel refused to grant her parents exit permits to accompany her for medical treatment.
COGAT claims to have debunked the story which claimed that Israel separated these Gazan parents from their dying daughter.
Contrary to reports, Aisha a-Lulu passed away in the Gaza Strip after having returned to her home approximately two weeks ago after surgery, which unfortunately did not succeed in the Al-Maqasid Hospital [in Jerusalem],” the statement said.”
Additionally in the Post’s report, COGAT refuted claims that Israel denied A-Lulu’s parents entry into Israel to accompany their daughter to a Jerusalem hospital:
Israel approved the entry into Israel of the child Aisha a-Lulu for medical treatment in a hospital in east Jerusalem after her parents signed a waiver, according to which they did not wish to leave the Gaza Strip with her,” COGAT said. “We emphasize that CLA [Coordination and Liaison Administration] Gaza policy requires parents to escort their minor children for medical treatments, based on the understanding that children need their parents in moments such as these.”
“However, in this case, Aisha’s parents did not wish to accompany her and therefore, in accordance with CLA policy, they were requested to sign a declaration that they choose not to escort their daughter during the course of her treatment, due to their own choice, and request that another party on their behalf escort her,” COGAT said.”
On the basis of COGAT’s comments, HRC told that Star that we think it’s incumbent upon AP to substantiate its reporting in the face of these Israeli claims. The Star has committed to liaise with AP on this matter in response to our concerns. We are hopeful that corrective action will be undertaken by the Star and AP to set the record straight.
Stay tuned to this page for future updates.