Official: Sick Palestinian Prisoners Face Slow Death in Israeli Jails

RAMALLAH, August 29, 2015 (WAFA) – Minister of detainees and ex-detainees affairs committee, Issa Qaraqe, said that sick Palestinian prisoners, incarcerated in Israeli jails, are subjected to slow death as a result of medical negligence, while the international community stands by and watches in silence.

Qaraqe stressed that the international community lacks the enough will to impose the international humanitarian standards and abide Israel to provide Palestinian prisoners with treatment.

The prisoner rights group Addameer asserts that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) maintains a systematic policy of medical negligence toward Palestinian detainees.

The number of sick prisoners has reached 1800, including 85 cases who suffer from serious chronic diseases, including cancer, paralysis, disability, and psychological and neurological diseases.

He stressed the need for Israel to allow the Palestinian side to review the sick prisoners’ medical files in order to reach a treatment mechanism.

He expressed grave concern over the lives of sick prisoners, citing the cases of a number of prisoners whose health status is critically poor, including prisoner Motasim Radad, Nahid al-Aqra’a, and Khaled As-Shaweesh, and others.

The group reports that the “lack of natural sunlight and moisture in the prisons, along with a poor, imbalanced diet and restrictions on use of the prison yard for exercise, can lead to health problems such as skin diseases, extreme fatigue, anemia and weakness, kidney problems, rheumatism, dental problems and ulcers.”

According to Addameer rights center, “Although all prisons include a medical clinic, physicians are on duty irregularly and specialized medical healthcare is generally unavailable.”

It said that prisoners are not treated outside the assigned clinic hours and typically must wait for long periods of time before being examined. Once they are examined, however, most prisoners are often prescribed painkillers without any thorough medical follow-up.

Addameer noted that, “Language is a fundamental problem as most clinic doctors do not speak Arabic and not all prisoners speak Hebrew. The communication difficulties often negatively impact a prisoner’s treatment and hinder the development of the trust necessary in the relationship between a doctor and his patient.”

Human rights organizations estimate that, since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000 until 2008, 17 Palestinian prisoners have died in Israeli prisons and detention centers as a result of medical negligence.

Regarding the issue of dual loyalty, Addameer said that, “Doctors and other medical staff employed by the IPS find themselves in a situation of “dual loyalty”, whereby their primary obligation is towards the State and the Israeli security apparatus, rather than the patient.

It said Doctors working in detention and interrogation centers often fail to report incidents of torture and ill-treatment to the relevant legal authorities for fear of losing their jobs.

The center said that, “Physical signs of torture and abuse are rarely reported in the detainee’s medical files making it almost impossible for the victims to seek justice and compensation,” adding that, “Doctors also often advise Israeli Security Agency officers on the health condition of a detainee held under interrogation and as such, they become complicit in the practice of torture and physical and mental abuse.”