Israel Denies 1,500 Sick Palestinian Prisoners Medical Care
by Stephen Lendman
Israel arbitrarily arrests, detains and tortures Palestinian men, women and children for wanting fundamental freedoms on their own land in their own country. Thousands of political prisoners languish in its gulag - denied all rights including essential medical treatment when ill.
Over 1,500 Palestinian prisoners are sick and/or disabled, scores in serious condition. Israel denies them vitally needed healthcare.
Except for aspirin or other largely ineffective pain killers, detainees must either buy their own medications, if permitted, or go untreated. They’re left to suffer, slowly wither and perish, usually after release when they’re too far gone - to save Israel the embarrassment of many prison deaths.
The Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs calls Israeli detention and mistreatment of sick prisoners “deliberate murder.”
They face delays or denial of badly needed surgery and/or other essential treatment, no access to medical specialists, appalling prison hospital facilities, unsanitary conditions leaving them vulnerable to illness and disease, as well as beatings and other abuses while ill.
On September 12, Palestinian lawyer Hanan al-Katib explained political prisoner Salah al-Din al-Titi’s ordeal. He suffers from congenital birth defects causing kidney failure, bladder and genital problems.
He underwent 10 surgeries before imprisonment. Despite constant pain, dizziness and vision problems, he’s gotten no medical treatment except largely ineffective pain killers.
In February 2013, he was sentenced to three years in prison. Israeli military courts refuse to release him for health reasons. He badly needs treatment denied him in prison.
The Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) said appalling prison conditions cause deteriorating health for large numbers of Palestinian detainees.
The Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association says the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) follows “a systematic policy of medical negligence in prisons and detention centers 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.”
“Prisoners are not treated outside the assigned clinic hours and typically must wait for long periods of time before being examined” then most often only given largely ineffective pain killers, denying them proper medical treatment.
Hospitalization, when permitted, is only after weeks or months of delays - inflicting punishing pain and suffering for political reasons.
Prison conditions hugely affect detainees adversely - from lack of sunlight, proper sanitation, nutritional food, health and dental care, as well as limited time outside their cells for exercise.
Many prisoners develop skin diseases, extreme fatigue, anemia, kidney deterioration, rheumatism, heart disease, cancer, dental problems, ulcers and other health issues - left festering from inadequate or denied treatment.
Prison doctors serve state interests, not incarcerated human beings they’re mandated to treat as physicians. They’re complicit with brutalizing physical and mental torture.
Appendicitis Muhammad, aged 18, developed in Ofer prison went untreated. He explained his ordeal, saying:
“I was arrested on 25 February 2009 from Katana after clashes erupted around the Wall in the village. A group of four undercover forces arrested me and started beating me.”
“Then the army came. They took me and transferred me to the police station in Atarot. There again, two border police beat me on my legs, head and stomach using their rifles.”
“They were beating me in a room called the ‘container,’ after which they took me to Atarot. It was in the evening at the time of the Maghreb prayer. I was left there until 4:00AM after which I was transferred to Ofer prison.”
“There, I was immediately placed in section 11, room number 4, specially used for detaining juveniles. I was held there for two months. Then they transferred me to the tents where I stayed another two months.”
“I was sentenced to four and a half months of prison and a 500 shekel fine. Although I was supposed to be released on 25 June 2009, there was a delay and I was released only on 2 July 2009.”
“A week before 25 June, I started feeling pain in both sides of my stomach. It started hurting more and more, so the officer of the section called the nurse who was on duty that day.”
“He came with a urine container and took a sample. Then, he asked that I go the clinic and the next day I was allowed to go. A doctor was there who performed a routine examination to check the pressure on the both sides of my waist.”
“Then she told me: ‘drink more water’ and gave me an envelope filled with blue pills the size of lentils. And they brought me back to the section. Every time I would feel the pain I would take one of the pills.”
“At first, they were working for 10 hours. Then, they stopped. When I went back to the clinic, I was told that I am dehydrated. This was the case until my release on 2 July 2009.”
“I took two pills before I was released on a Thursday. They worked until Saturday noon. Then I felt a sharp pain and immediately went to the doctor in the village clinic.”
“From there I was immediately transferred to the hospital in Ramallah and then to the operating room. After a few X-rays and tests, the doctors performed surgery which lasted an hour and a half. It turned out that my appendix had burst and an infection spread throughout my abdomen. I had to stay in the hospital for 16 days.”
Muhammad was lucky. Release in time for vital treatment saved him - denied by prison authorities and complicit doctors. Infection from an untreated ruptured appendix quickly spreads and can cause death.
Hundreds of other Palestinian prisoners endure similar mistreatment. Israel denies them proper care no matter how ill.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.