Think about this and tell me if you see the connections.
1. Egypt is the main provider of advanced medical services to Gaza -- particularly cardiac surgery and cancer treatment. According to the Palestine Children's Relief Fund there are hundreds, if not thousands, of children who need cardiac care which is not available in Gaza. Until late March 2009, a committee of the Palestinian Authority determined who was eligible to apply for exit to Egypt for care. The World Health Organization estimates 800 to 1,000 patients in Gaza each month need treatment abroad. Near the end of March, the Hamas government of Gaza (which runs the hospitals) decided this should be a government function and took over the decision making. Egypt, which is pressuring Hamas to join a unity government with the Palestinian Authority, stopped permitting anyone from leaving Gaza for medical treatment. Israel has also rejected all applications. People died without care. The dispute was resolved but, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Territories (OCHAopt), only 90 patients in need of treatment were allowed to cross the border in April compared with 325 in March.
2. Dr. Sonia Robbins, a UK reconstructive surgeon, with a long history of humanitarian work in Palestine and Egypt, along with 8 other medical workers, has been denied entry to Gaza (5 British, 3 Belgian, and 1 Greek). Some of the group has been waiting 50 days to cross. (The border was officially open for two days last week, and other groups have been crossing into Gaza on a case by case basis). Dr. Robbins' group brought with them equipment to create a cardiac surgery unit at Shifaa hospital. This would drastically reduce the need for medical treatment abroad.
Today group of 100 Italian human rights activists was permitted to cross the border today. They invited Dr. Robbins group to join them. Border officials removed the doctors from the Italians' bus. The doctors are now in the fourth day of a hunger strike to protest Egyptian authorities refusal to allow them to cross into Gaza.
Would Egypt prefer to keep control of all advanced cardiac care as a negotiating card with Hamas?