Israel to Repatriate Palestinian Patients from East Jerusalem Hospitals to Gaza: An In-depth Analysis


This week, Israeli officials are set to return a group of Palestinian patients, previously receiving treatment in East Jerusalem hospitals, back to Gaza.

The group, consisting of 22 Palestinians from Gaza, includes newborn infants and their mothers, cancer patients now in remission, and several companions. These individuals had all been granted permission by Israeli authorities to travel to Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem for specialized medical care, primarily before the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

For several months, COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry body overseeing Palestinian affairs, has been urging East Jerusalem hospital officials to compile a list of patients who no longer require in-patient medical treatment. The aim is to facilitate their return to Gaza, as confirmed by hospital officials.

The patients on this list, which CNN has reviewed, are scheduled to board buses for the Kerem Shalom crossing, located on the Israel-Gaza border, on Wednesday.

Among the patients is Nima Abu Garrara, who arrived in East Jerusalem from Rafah while pregnant with twins. She gave birth on October 5, and since then, her twins have only known the safety of a room at Makassed Hospital. However, this safety will soon be replaced by the harsh reality of war.

Abu Garrara, along with two other mothers, has spent months in the same small room, filled to the brim with baby accessories. Suitcases and duffel bags are stacked in every corner, while baby bottles, cans of formula, and stuffed animals cover every available surface.

In response to a CNN inquiry, COGAT confirmed that Palestinians from Gaza who “are not in need of further medical care” are being returned to Gaza. COGAT will coordinate the return with international aid organizations. “In cases where there is a need for further medical treatment, COGAT arranges their stay with the hospitals to safeguard their health,” the agency stated.

Like everyone on the removal lists, Abu Garrara is deeply conflicted between the safety of East Jerusalem and longing for her family – and a home that has been irrevocably altered by Israel’s relentless, months-long aerial and ground campaign.

Asmaa Al Dabje, another mother, said, “My daughter is there. She needs me. Every time she speaks to me, she asks when I’m coming back. Every time there’s an airstrike, children go to hug their mothers, and mine has no one to hug.”

As a nurse, she feels she has betrayed her professional duty to help during the war. “I lost 43 of my colleagues. I lost family members, friends, and neighbors. My house is wiped away. I’m afraid that I’ll go back and suddenly…”

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