UK & World News
Paralysed Maha Told She Can Leave Gaza
The family of paralysed seven-year-old Maha Sheik Khalil have been told she will be able to leave Gaza.
The Al Shifa hospital is now working to co-ordinate her transfer for specialist treatment abroad.
It comes as Israel issued a statement saying it had originally authorised a request for her evacuation abroad 16 days ago, but the permit was not used.
A spokesperson for the Co-ordination of Government Activities in the Territories (Cogat), a branch of the Israeli Ministry of Defence which co-ordinates entry and exit of people and goods to Gaza, said the permit was issued on July 26.
However, until Tuesday morning, neither the Director of Patient Transfers at Al Shifa Hospital nor the family had been made aware the application had been received, or authorised.
On Monday, in response to a Sky News report on Maha's situation, Israeli military spokesperson Lt Col Peter Lerner tweeted that a "preliminary investigation" had shown that no request had been made for Maha to be able to leave Gaza.
The reason for the confusion is not clear, but the process for patient evacuation requires a chain of communications, from the doctors in Gaza sending a request to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, which is then communicated to Israel.
Sky News was shown a list of requests for evacuation sent by the Al Shifa hospital's patient transfer office on Sunday, which included Maha's name, but they did not know whether the list had reached Israel.
In a statement to Sky News, Major Guy Inbar, from Cogat, said he had on Tuesday sent messages to both the Palestinian Authority and the World Health Organisation, urging them to resubmit an application, which would be authorised immediately.
Maha was paralysed from the neck down in an airstrike that killed her mother and two of her sisters.
She needs urgent treatment abroad to try to recover nerve function in her upper limbs.
Her doctors have said that with every day that goes by, her prospects for nerve recovery fade.
A hospital in Turkey is ready to take Maha - offers have also been received from Germany and the US.
They will try to evacuate as many critical patients as possible during the current 72-hour ceasefire, which ends on Wednesday night.
Israel says it has already approved and facilitated the evacuation of 150 Gazans injured in the current conflict, and a further 660 patients who needed specialist medical treatment in Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.
Both sides are trying to help Maha - it is still not clear why the earlier information was not passed on.
But her case illustrates the difficulties involved in co-ordinating patient transfers during the conflict, as the humanitarian situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate.
Maha, who has been in her hospital bed for 24 days now, said: "I just want to go outside so fast so I can get well."