Security scanner blamed for woman's death

Harretz | May 2, 2005
By Arnon Regular

A 57-year-old Palestinian woman with a pacemaker died over the weekend, after passing through the scanning machine at the Rafah Crossing between Gaza and Egypt. The woman, Fatima Mahmoud Abu Obeid, crossed over to Egypt along with her husband, and about half an hour later suddenly collapsed. She was taken by ambulance to a Rafah hospital on the Egyptian side where she was pronounced dead.

Palestinian sources blamed her death on the border scanning machine, described as a "U.S.-made advanced portal using millimeter wave holographic technology to screen passengers for weapons and explosives."

Military sources deny any link, saying that the machine has been tested and found not to harm those passing through it. Similar machines are also used at Ben-Gurion International Airport.

Abu Obeid reportedly did not tell the operators that she had a pacemaker, and the incident is being investigated. The sources also dismissed the idea that the millimeter waves were not the same level used for all other passengers. Palestinian operators last week closed the Rafah Crossing to protest the installation of the new machine; they claim it emits dangerous radioactive waves.