Born in Gaza
One young Palestinian family's fight against time and bureaucracy to save their son.
Last Modified: 10 May 2010 18:26 GMT

Firas Mazloom was born with two holes in his heart. His condition could have been fixed by routine surgery, but Israel's siege on the Gaza Strip has crippled the medical system there. The doctors do not have the training or the equipment to perform the necessary operation.

Firas went to Israel for a check up after he was born and was supposed to return for a follow-up. But Gaza is blocked off from the outside world and Firas never made it back to Israel for his heart operation.

His parents say their request to cross the border was turned down six times because his case was not considered an emergency.

But when their son's condition suddenly started to deteriorate and the doctors in Gaza could no longer help him, their only solution was to send him to an advanced hospital in Israel - and now it was urgent.

The siege keeps many Palestinians like Firas from the needed health care  

An Israeli doctor accepted the request and Firas' parents, Amal and Assad, started a race against time and bureaucracy to get their son out of Gaza.

Just when they finally managed to push through the red tape to get their son out of Gaza, Firas died.

The journey to Israel would have taken only an hour, but after three hours of obstacles and delays, Firas' journey never began.

Ran Yaron from Physicians for Human Rights helps Palestinian patients get access to the medical treatment they need.

He says: "Since Israel controls the only gate out for Palestinians who seek for care unavailable, it has responsibility to let them out.

"Nearly 25 per cent of the patients who apply for exit permits are denied due to rejection or to delays. I do my best to help Palestinians, not only because they are human beings ... but also as an Israeli I feel responsibility for them."

But Israel's main concern is security. Colonal Moshe Levi, the Gaza Strip coordinator of the Israeli army, says: "Four out of five requests we received every day, we approved. This is 80 per cent from the requirements from the Palestinian side we approve.

"Our challenge is how to create a balance between the security needs and between the civilian needs. This is the main issue, this is the main challenge of Israeli policy here."

One year later, the pain caused by the death of their first child has subsided because Amal is due to give birth again. She is expecting another boy - they will call him Firas.

Hope has been restored for this young family in the besieged Gaza Strip, but the political situation remains unchanged.

There are still more than 1,000 patients in Gaza who are desperately waiting for the bureaucracy to allow them adequate health care.

Born in Gaza can be seen from Monday, May 10, 2010 at the following times GMT: Monday: 1230; Tuesday: 1930; Wednesday: 0530, 1430; Thursday: 0030, 2330.

Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.