Medical care withheld from Palestinian prisoners

November 13, 2013
Sarah Benton

In this posting, 1) general statement and proposed letter from Samidoun; 2) & 3) Physicians for Human Rights and Palestine Monitor on the death of Hassan Turabi; 4)Dirar Abu Sisi, Samidoun; 5) PNN, Salem Kassab;6) PNN, Shadi Gawadra; 7)PNN: Nine Sick Prisoners; 8) Obituary: Abu Hamdiyeh; 9) Abu Hamdiyeh funeral
חסן תוראבי
Hassan Turabi before he died, aged 22, of untreated cancer.

Urgent Action: Demand release and proper medical care for ill Palestinian prisoners
[Clicking the headline above will take you to the Samidoun page where there is a form you can fill out and send.]
November 10, 2013

Hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners are suffering from serious illness and disease inside Israeli prisons. The most severely ill patients are held at Ramle prison hospital, where ill-treatment and medical neglect are so common that Palestinian prisoners refer colloquially to it as “the slaughterhouse.” Medical neglect and the use of painkillers instead of adequate medical treatment is repeatedly reported as a policy inside Israeli prisons.

On November 4, Palestinian political prisoner Hassan al-Turabi died in Afula hospital of leukemia. Maysara Abuhamdieh died in April of cancer. Both did not receive sufficient medical treatment in Israeli prisons prior to his death. Turabi was arrested earlier in the year despite Israeli forces’ knowledge of his advanced leukemia, while Abuhamdieh was denied treatment for nearly a year and provided only painkillers despite his throat cancer.

Some of the most urgent cases of seriously ill prisoners currently held in Israeli prisons include: Mansour Mowqada, who has cancerous tumours, a “plastic stomach” and uses colostomy bags; Nahed al-Aqra, who has had four parts of his leg amputated; Moatassem Raddad, whose bowel cancer has spread throughout his body; Salem Kassab, who lost the sight in his left eye in October after prison doctors refused to perform surgery on him; Suleiman Abu Ruwais, who was denied treatment for an ulcer for four years; Ismail Abu Alafa, who is not receiving proper treatment since having portions of his stomach removed; Murad Abu Muliq, who has lost nearly 20 pounds due to intestinal disease; and Omar Abu Saada, who has tumours in his throat.

Approximately 25 Palestinian political prisoners have been diagnosed with cancer. Palestinian imprisoned leader Ahmad Sa’adat called on November 10 for urgent international action to support the sick prisoners, saying the situation ”requires urgent action at all levels to prevent the occupation from executing prisoners through the slow death of patients, with a policy of punishment and a program of revenge.”. Prisoners in Nafha prison have announced they plan to launch protests in solidarity with the sick prisoners.

Click headline above to send a message and demand:

Immediate release of the sick prisoners

Until their release, these immediate actions are needed:

Immediate independent examination by Palestinian doctors, and outside doctors being allowed into the prisons to examine them
Provision of proper medical treatment and medication under independent Palestinian medical supervision to all sick prisoners
End to the policy of denying family visits to Palestinian political prisoners

Contact Israeli officials: Release sick Palestinian prisoners
It is urgent that Israeli officials hear that people around the world are joining in the call to release and provide proper independent medical care for hundreds of seriously ill Palestinian political prisoners held in jail.

Letter text

To Brigadier General Dani Afroni, Military Judge Advocate General;

I write today to call for the immediate release and the provision of proper medical treatment to the hundreds of sick Palestinian political prisoners being held in Israeli jails. The mistreatment, medical neglect and abuse of Palestinian prisoners is an international issue of great concern to me and many others around the world.

The deaths of Hassan al-Turabi and Maysara Abuhamdieh are not isolated incidents. Prisoners are suffering daily in the Ramle prison clinic and receiving only painkillers, denied surgery and treatment for very serious illness. It is known that al-Turabi was arrested and imprisoned for months despite prison and security officials’ awareness the entire time that he was suffering from severe leukemia.

Some prisoners whose cases require immediate action include: Mansour Mowqada, who has cancerous tumors, a “plastic stomach” and uses colostomy bags; Nahed al-Aqra, who has had four parts of his leg amputated; Salem Kassab, who lost sight in his left eye in October after prison doctors refused to perform surgery on him; Suleiman Abu Ruwais, who was denied treatment for an ulcer for four years; Ismail Abu Alafa, who is not receiving proper treatment since having portions of his stomach removed; Murad Abu Muliq, who has lost nearly 20 pounds due to intestinal disease; and Omar Abu Saada, who has tumors in his throat.

I write today to demand the immediate release of the sick prisoners. Until their release, these immediate actions are needed:

Immediate independent examination by Palestinian doctors, and outside doctors being allowed into the prisons to examine them

Provision of proper medical treatment and medication under independent Palestinian medical supervision to all sick prisoners

PHR-Israel calls for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Hassan Turabi

By Physicians for Human Rights-Israel
November 05, 2013

Hassan Turabi , 22, a cancer patient , died today in Haemek Medical Centre, after being released unexpectedly by IPS in early October this year, with severe and life-threatening internal bleeding. Hassan was arrested and held by the IPS from January 2013 to early October 2013 when he was suddenly released.

According to information received by PHR-Israel from Hassan’s family and lawyers who dealt with his case and visited him in prison, a week before he was transferred to hospital and effectively abandoned by the prison service Turabi vomited blood on a daily basis. They indicated that it is possible that if he had been transferred to the hospital earlier, his death could have been prevented.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel strongly condemns the conduct of the IPS in this case and in similar cases where prisoners are released only when their condition deteriorates significantly to the degree that they are on their deathbed. Such behavior gives rise to the concern that the release of Turabi in a critical condition was timed to avoid any investigation of his death in custody, which IPS would have been obliged to do.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel calls for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Hassan and investigation of all cases of prisoners whose deaths occurred close to their release. Such an investigation should include an examination of the conduct and treatment which they received from the IPS.

The only way to ensure care and appropriate health services for prisoners is to remove the prison health services from the responsibility of the IPS and place it under the supervision of the Ministry of Health – as a way to ensure the supremacy of medical considerations.

22 year-old prisoner dies of medical negligence in Israeli prison

By Julie C., Palestine Monitor
November 08, 2013

22-year-old prisoner, Hasan Turabi, died of leukemia at the Afula Medical Center in the north of present-day Israel last Tuesday, 5 November. The young man, from the village of Sarra, near Nablus, had been in Israel’s Megiddo prison since 17 January.

Already hospitalized once in March this year, Turabi’s health deteriorated again three weeks ago despite reports from the prison’s physician stating that he was in good condition. The Palestinian Minister of Detainees and human rights organization are accusing Israeli prison authorities of medical negligence.

“On his last report, the doctor of the prison said he was doing okay,” says Mohamad Nader Kharraz, Turabi’s lawyer. In order to expose the prison doctor’s report for the fabrication that it was, Kharraz appealed to the Israeli court, asking them to require an examination by an external doctor for his client.

The court dismissed the appeal, stating that the prison doctor’s report was sufficient. For Turabi’s lawyer, this rejection is a method frequently used in order to prevent prisoners from leaving jail early for medical reasons, and therefore, not serving their full sentence.

Despite the Israeli court system’s trust in the prison doctor’s examination, Turabi’s last statement before his death, taken by Hiba Maslaha, a lawyer for the Palestinian Authority (PA) Ministry of Prisoners Affairs, tells a different story.

“I have been suffering from extreme headaches and abdominal problems for two weeks and I’m often dizzy. I went to the prison’s clinic almost every day but they only gave me pain killers which did not help me at all. Ten days before the incident (burst blood vessels) I threw up a relatively large amount of blood and went to the clinic but I did not receive any treatment. On Tuesday I felt extremely dizzy with strong abdominal pain and headache, then I suddenly started throwing up and I lost consciousness.”

Addameer, the Ramallah based Prisoner Support and Human Rights organization, published Turabi’s statement in a press release issued the day of his death.

A “systematic policy of medical negligence”

“At the time of his arrest Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) already knew that he suffered from leukaemia,” Addameer’s press release argues.

According to the organization, his death is directly related to the improper and inadequate treatment Palestinians receive from the Israeli Prison Service (IPS).

“The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) has adopted a systematic policy of medical negligence in prisons and detention centres housing Palestinian detainees. Long delays in providing substandard medical treatment are typical. Although all prisons include a medical clinic, physicians are on duty irregularly and specialized medical healthcare is generally unavailable,” writes Addameer on its official website.

For Turabi’s lawyer, the prison’s physician is a “criminal.” Gavan Kelly, Addameer’s Communication Officer, similarly argues that “the so-called ‘doctors’ are hired by the prison’s services,” not by the civil medical authorities. “Their loyalty lies with the security services,” says Kelly.

“Prison medics treated the case recklessly and did not give him any medicine until he collapsed and lost consciousness on March 16, 2013”, declared Issa Qaraqe, PA Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs, in an interview with Ma’an News Agency.

Turabi is now one of the 52 other prisoners who have died within Israeli prisons since 1967, with Turabi being the third prisoner to die in 2013 alone.

Gavan Kelly estimates that as many as 44 Palestinians could be suffering from cancer without appropriate care within Israel’s network of prisons.

Turabi’s death sparked protests in Megiddo prison that lasted throughout the day on Tuesday. 20 prisoners were injured after the Israeli prison guards assaulted the inmates for refusing their meals and daily break in the prison yard.

“Detainees being held in Nafta jail launched a two-day hunger strike in response to the death, while lawyers who work for the PA Ministry of Prisoners boycotted Israeli courts in protest against Israel’s ‘systematic’ medical negligence,” reports Ma’an News Agency.

In its press release, Addameer “calls on the UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-Moon to immediately form an international committee to investigate the conditions and treatment of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, and also investigate the continued systematic torture practiced by the Israeli security services and IPS.”

For Addameer’s communication officer, Gavan Kelly, this situation “will not change until more pressure is put on Israel” in order to “hold the authorities accountable.”

Dirar Abu Sisi suffering partial paralysis in his leg

By Samidoun
November 11, 2013

Palestinian political prisoner Dirar Abu Sisi’s health has deteriorated significantly, reported Palestinian lawyer Rami Alami, who visited Abu Sisi in Eshel prison. His leg is suffering partial paralysis and it is very difficult to move; in addition, he is suffering heart and kidney disease and requires an asthma inhaler. He also has a damaged disc in his back and is receiving only painkillers from the prison hospital, he reported.

Abu Sisi had been held in isolation for over two and one-half years since his kidnapping in the Ukraine in February 2011. He was held in solitary confinement until only a few weeks ago, and during that time received very little medical care for his serious health issues.

Palestinian Prisoner Loses Sight Due to Medical Neglect

Palestine News Network (PNN)
October 29, 2013

The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) in Jenin, warned on Sunday of the deterioration of the health status of prisoner Salem Kassab, 28, from the village of Kafrdan west of Jenin, who lost sight in one of his eyes, The Palestinian Information Center reported Monday.

Ragheb Abu Diak, Secretary of the PPS, said in a press statement that prisoner Kassab lost his eyesight due to the deliberate policy of medical neglect in the Israeli occupation prisons.

He added that Kassab, detained for more than ten years and sentenced to 11 years, has been suffering from problems in the left eye since his arrest.

Abu Diak noted that Kassab needs surgery but the prison doctors have been refusing to perform it.

He called on the human rights organizations, particularly the International Red Cross to exert pressure on the occupation authorities to allow specialized doctors to visit prisoner Kassab to provide the necessary treatment for him.

The Palestinian government in Gaza held the occupation authorities fully responsible for the lives of sick prisoners, in light of the deterioration of health conditions of some prisoners who suffers cancer.

The Minister for Prisoners and ex-detainees Atallah Abu Subbah said at a press conference held on Sunday evening at the ministry’s headquarters in Gaza City in the presence of the families of captive patients that the sick prisoners in Israeli jails are subjected to a systematic crime inside the prisons.

He urged the World Health Organization and the International Committee of the Red Cross to immediately intervene to save the sick prisoners.

There are 1,200 sick prisoners, 25 of whom suffer from cancer, in the Israeli jails. More than 150 captives need urgent surgeries.

Abu Subbah, noted that the Israeli prison clinics are lacking specialized doctors, medicines and medical equipment, which has exacerbated the captives’ illnesses.

He called on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities and save the Palestinian prisoners, before it’s too late.

Health Condition of Wounded Prisoner Deteriorates

PNN, October 07, 2013

The health condition of the wounded prisoner Shadi Gawadra from Bir Al-Basha village in Jenin, was seriously deteriorating, according to his lawyer.

The lawyer Ashraf Al-Khatib said after visiting Gawadra in the Israeli Shatta prison on Saturday that Gawadra, who was hit with nine bullets during his arrest by Israeli occupation forces, is unable to move by himself.

He said that Gawadra, who is serving a life sentence, could not see his relatives only one meter away from him, which constituted a new and serious worsening in his condition that could lead to blindness if left unattended.

PPS: Nine Sick Prisoners in Rimon Israeli Jail

PNN, October 09, 2013

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) revealed that there are nine sick Palestinian prisoners held in ‘Rimon’ Israeli jail.

According to PPS, a number of those sick prisoners are in urgent need to be transferred to hospitals for treatment and the others wait to run medical tests. But the Israel Prisons Service (IPS) continues to procrastinate on providing them with the proper treatment.

Obituary: Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh (1949 – 2013)

By Ma’an news
April o7, 2013

BETHLEHEM — Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, who died on Tuesday as a prisoner of Israel, was a married father of four who spent decades of his life in exile.

Born in Hebron on Sept. 25, 1949, Abu Hamdiyeh was first imprisoned by Israel in 1969, accused of membership of the General Union of Palestinian Students.

Abu Hamdiyeh received a diploma in electronics in Cairo, and later studied law at university in Beirut. Wanted by Israel, he never graduated.

Between 1970 and 1975, Abu Hamdiyeh lived in Syria, Kuwait, Lebanon and Jordan. Every time he returned to the West Bank he was detained without charge.

In 1978, Abu Hamdiyeh was exiled to Jordan but returned to Palestine two decades later. He worked as a general in the Palestinian Authority’s Preventive Security.

Abu Hamdiyeh was arrested again in May 2002, and in 2005 an Israeli court sentenced him to 25 years. Israeli military authorities appealed for a lengthier sentence, and in 2007 Abu Hamdiyeh was sentenced to life.

Since Abu Hamdiyeh’s arrest in 2002, Israel banned his four children from visiting him.

In August 2012, Abu Hamdiyeh suffered severe throat pain. Five months later, he was diagnosed with throat cancer.

He complained of medical neglect by Israeli prison authorities, and said in March that he was only given pain killers. At times he was transferred to Soroka Hospital, a trip he described as “another journey of suffering.” The cancer spread to his spinal cord.

In late March, Abu Hamdiyeh was finally admitted to the hospital, where he died on Tuesday morning.

Expressing his sorrow and condolences, Palestinian Authority premier Salam Fayyad praised Abu Hamdiyeh’s distinguished role in the national struggle for freedom and said “his contributions to the just cause of our people will remain alive in our national memory and continued struggle for freedom.”

There are 25 Palestinians diagnosed with cancer in Israeli jails. Some 207 Palestinians have died in Israeli jails since 1967, including 54 who died from medical negligence, the Palestinian Authority says.

Funeral procession of Abu Hamdiyeh, April 2013
Hebron clashes follow Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh funeral

By BBC news
April 04, 2013

Palestinian protesters have clashed with Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Hebron following the funeral of a prisoner who died in an Israeli jail.

Soldiers used tear gas and rubber bullets – protesters threw stones.

The clashes began after thousands took to the streets to mourn the death of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, who died of cancer in an Israeli jail.

Palestinian officials have accused Israel of medical negligence – Israel says care was provided.

Abu Hamdiyeh was serving a life sentence for a failed bombing attack on a Jerusalem cafe in 2002. Palestinians say he should have been released on compassionate grounds and the death has sparked protests across the West Bank.

Thursday also saw the funerals of two Palestinian teenagers killed by Israeli forces on Wednesday during clashes between soldiers and youths.

Their bodies, wrapped in Palestinian flags, were carried through their hometown Anabta, where shops and schools remained closed in mourning.

The teenagers, named locally as Amer Nassar and his cousin, Naji Balbisy, were shot after Israeli troops opened fire on Palestinians who threw firebombs at a guard post in Tulkarem, in the northern West Bank.

Israel’s army said the incident was being investigated.

Several hundred young men lined the streets, chanting and waving Palestinian flags as the body of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh was carried to the mosque. During prayers, there were several rounds of ceremonial gunfire.

Abu Hamdiyeh was a member of the Palestinian president’s Fatah faction and is being buried with the honours of the presidential guard in front of huge crowds of mourners.

His death in detention from cancer has already reignited tensions across the occupied West Bank. Many shops and businesses have been shut in a general strike and there have been violent clashes with Israeli soldiers.

“Maysara’s death was a big loss for Hebronites and all Palestinians. He was well loved and well-respected,” says Abdul Raouf, whose son is held in an Israeli prison. “The prisoners sacrificed for us. We are very proud of them.”

“The martyrs occupy a big place in the hearts of Palestinian people,” adds Taher, a student in Hebron. “This could be the issue to cause a third intifada (uprising).”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the deaths jeopardised “US and international efforts to restart negotiations”.

He also criticised Israel for continuing to use force to suppress what he described at peaceful protests.

Palestinian officials claim Israel did not provide the 64-year-old with adequate medical care and failed to release him after diagnosing that his illness was terminal.

Israeli officials say the procedure to allow his release on medical grounds had begun.

On Wednesday, the Israeli health ministry released the results of a post-mortem examination on Abu Hamdiyeh. This found a cancerous growth in his throat and secondary cancerous growths in his neck, chest, lungs, liver, and spinal cord.

The head of the Palestinian Pathological Institute also participated in the examination, a spokesman said.

The rise in tension and violence comes days before US Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to visit Jerusalem and Ramallah to try to press for a revival in negotiations that broke down in 2010.

The Israeli military said that several rockets were fired in Gaza early on Thursday. One crossed into Israel, causing no injuries.

Medical services
Excerpt from UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners

Medical services
22. (1) At every institution there shall be available the services of at least one qualified medical officer who should have some knowledge of psychiatry. The medical services should be organized in close relationship to the general health administration of the community or nation. They shall include a psychiatric service for the diagnosis and, in proper cases, the treatment of states of mental abnormality.

(2) Sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals. Where hospital facilities are provided in an institution, their equipment, furnishings and pharmaceutical supplies shall be proper for the medical care and treatment of sick prisoners, and there shall be a staff of suitable trained officers.

(3) The services of a qualified dental officer shall be available to every prisoner.

23. (1) In women’s institutions there shall be special accommodation for all necessary pre-natal and post-natal care and treatment. Arrangements shall be made wherever practicable for children to be born in a hospital outside the institution. If a child is born in prison, this fact shall not be mentioned in the birth certificate.

(2) Where nursing infants are allowed to remain in the institution with their mothers, provision shall be made for a nursery staffed by qualified persons, where the infants shall be placed when they are not in the care of their mothers.

24. The medical officer shall see and examine every prisoner as soon as possible after his admission and thereafter as necessary, with a view particularly to the discovery of physical or mental illness and the taking of all necessary measures; the segregation of prisoners suspected of infectious or contagious conditions; the noting of physical or mental defects which might hamper rehabilitation, and the determination of the physical capacity of every prisoner for work.

25. (1) The medical officer shall have the care of the physical and mental health of the prisoners and should daily see all sick prisoners, all who complain of illness, and any prisoner to whom his attention is specially directed.

(2) The medical officer shall report to the director whenever he considers that a prisoner’s physical or mental health has been or will be injuriously affected by continued imprisonment or by any condition of imprisonment.

26. (1) The medical officer shall regularly inspect and advise the director upon:

(a) The quantity, quality, preparation and service of food;

(b) The hygiene and cleanliness of the institution and the prisoners;

(c) The sanitation, heating, lighting and ventilation of the institution;

(d) The suitability and cleanliness of the prisoners’ clothing and bedding;

(e) The observance of the rules concerning physical education and sports, in cases where there is no technical personnel in charge of these activities.

(2) The director shall take into consideration the reports and advice that the medical officer submits according to rules 25 (2) and 26 and, in case he concurs with the recommendations made, shall take immediate steps to give effect to those recommendations; if they are not within his competence or if he does not concur with them, he shall immediately submit his own report and the advice of the medical officer to higher authority.

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