Israel denies life-saving treatment to Palestinian prisoner

November 24, 2013
Palestinian prisoners in Megiddo Prison, where Abdul Halim Turabi was held.

Young Palestinian prisoner Hassan Abdul-Halim Turabi, who suffered from leukemia, died at the Afula Israeli Hospital aged 22 on the November 5.

Turabi was killed by deliberate Israeli medical neglect, after being denied essential treatment. The number of Palestinian prisoners who have died in Israeli jails since 1967 now sits at 205.

Turabi was taken prisoner more than 10 months ago. Due to his ill health, Israel said it would release him but did not. When he first started experiencing pain, he asked for medical treatment in the prison clinic and was given painkillers.

However, his health deteriorated until he started vomiting blood. He fell unconscious and only then was he rushed to the hospital. His parents were allowed to accompany him.

Israeli forces transferred Turabi from Megiddo prison to Afula Medical Center for medical treatment too late.

He had spent 20 days in an intensive care unit after being admitted unconscious to the Israeli hospital. Turabi had been suffering a severe headache and belly pains for months while in prison.

The Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners Affairs said before his death that for two weeks, Turabi suffered severe pains and a swollen abdomen. Nevertheless, the prison’s clinicians provided him with only minor painkillers.

Ten days before he was transferred to the hospital, he vomited large quantities of blood but did not receive treatment from the prison’s medical staff.

He was later moved to the intensive care unit where medics found he had blood clots in the neck, chest and abdomen.

The Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Prisoners' Affairs Issa Qaraqe described the case as a new “war crime” committed against Palestinian prisoners.

Five Palestinian prisoners have died in Israeli jails this year alone.

About 3000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails started a hunger strike following news that Turabi had died because of deliberate neglect by Israeli authorities.

Several demonstrations took place in the West Bank and Gaza in protest at Turabi’s death and against the Israeli prison authorities’ mistreatment of prisoners.

A statement was released by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Prison Branch in response to the death of Turabi: “The killing of prisoners in the jails of the occupation is a deliberate result of the systematic policy of medical neglect by the prison administration, and by the intelligence apparatus that seeks to undermine the steadfastness of the courageous Palestinian prisoners.

“As part of this policy, on November 5, 2013, the struggler Hassan al-Turabi died in a hospital in Afula after his transfer there from Megiddo prison approximately one month ago, where he fell as a martyr from his struggle with leukemia, which severely worsened as a result of deliberate medical negligence.

“Responsibility also lies at the feet of the intelligence agencies, who were fully aware of his illness and suffering, warned by his family and human rights organizations, and yet arrested him and continued his detention despite that information.

“It is clear that the goal of his detention was to ensure his death in the custody of the occupation, and to attempt to deter other Palestinian strugglers from continuing in the path of struggle and resistance to the occupation and its policies.

“These criminal policies are escalating daily, from arrests, to home demolitions, land confiscation, settler attacks on Palestinian youth and farmland and the burning of mosques, continued settlement expansion, the Judaization of Jerusalem, the continuing siege, the ongoing denial of Palestinian refugees’ right of return, attempting to empty the Palestinian cause of its essence and push the Palestinian issue outside the responsibility of Zionism and instead into international and Arab responsibility.

“The occupation carries the responsibility for Hassan al-Turabi’s life and the lives of all of the sick prisoners in prisons and the patients in Ramle prison hospital.

“We demand an end to the criminal policy of medical neglect in the treatment of prisoners, and for the international and human rights institutions to play their role in holding the enemy accountable for its crimes through the formation of an international commission to investigate those crimes and expose the violations of the occupation against prisoners.

“The occupation must also be pressured to convert the file of sick prisoners to the Ministry of Health and under the control of international institutions, and remove it from the responsibility of the prison administration.

“Finally, we call on the masses of our people to join in a grass-roots campaign to advance the cause of sick prisoners and demand the immediate release of sick prisoners, especially that a number of them are on their deathbeds.”

The Palestinian Center for the Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights said it held the Israeli government, the Israeli Prison Services (IPS) and their medical team responsible for the death of Turabi due to deliberate medical negligence policy practiced against political prisoners in Israeli jails.
There are now more than 100 Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails who are suffering serious diseases. They are in desperate need of proper health care.

The international community has a responsibility to intervene and help save the lives of Palestinian political prisoners at risk. Israel must be held to account for breaches of international law and
human rights laws.

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