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Palestinians demand international delegation assess prisoners’ health

Jerusalem24 – The Palestinian Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Affairs Commission has issued a call for a “neutral medical delegation” to be sent to Israeli occupation prisons to assess Palestinian detainees’ health conditions.

The commission said in a statement last Thursday that sending an international medical delegation to the occupation prisons has become “a necessary requirement, providing medical humanitarian protection has become an urgent and important matter, and the time has come to move towards that with great seriousness.”

Hassan Abed Rabouh, the spokesman of the commission, tells Jerusalem24 that the commission is sending an open invitation to all concerned legal and humanitarian organizations and institutions who typically work with Palestinian prisoners, such as the Red Cross, European Union, Doctors without Borders, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Abed Rabouh explains that there are over 500 sick prisoners in Israeli prisons, with a recent additional 17 Covid-19 infections in Ashkelon prison. Covid-19 patients include six detainees who suffer from chronic diseases and need close health monitoring, the latest of which is 82-year-old Fouad Al-Shobaki, the eldest Palestinian detainee in Israeli prison.

Ashkelon prison is considered one of the oldest and most insalubrious prisons in terms of environmental and health conditions, with prisoners facing extremely difficult detention conditions.

Earlier this year, the National Committee for Saving the Lives of Sick Prisoners issued the same demand for a neutral international committee to visit and assess sick prisoners’s health conditions, and to investigate the policy of medical neglect they say they are exposed to.

In January, the committee called for holding an urgent meeting with the WHO to implement recommendations issued by the organization in its health report of the situation in Palestine in May 2021, as well as another with the Red Cross, urging them to fulfill their responsibilities in saving the lives of sick prisoners and in obliging the occupation to provide appropriate treatment to prisoners and consider releasing seriously ill detainees, as stipulated in the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions.

Findings of the May 2021 Report by the Director-General of the WHO into Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan:

“In 2020, four Palestinian detainees died while incarcerated in Israeli prisons. There are seven bodies of Palestinian prisoners who died in Israeli prisons currently withheld by Israel (two bodies from 2020; four bodies from 2016 2019; and one body from 1980). As of January 2021, the number of COVID-19 cases recorded among Palestinian prisoners had reached 366, of which about 100 cases were documented in Gilboa Prison near to Beisan/Beit She’an. Approximately 700 Palestinians were reported to be in need of medical assistance in Israeli prisons in January 2021, of whom 300 had chronic illnesses and at least 11 had a diagnosis of cancer. Human rights organizations, on the basis of affidavits, report the systematic use of alleged torture and ill-treatment at Israeli interrogation centres, with a lack of intervention, medical care or reporting by Israeli Prison Service doctors.”

Recommendations of the report:

“Ensure the independent and timely provision of health services to Palestinian prisoners, improve prison conditions, including through adequate nutrition and care of patients in prison, and ensure no one is subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Source: Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, Report by the Director-General, World Health Organization, 20 May 2021

The WHO’s health report published in May 2022 lists the same recommendations as the previous year.

Nadeen Alshaer

Alshaer is a Palestinian journalist, a Birzeit University graduate with a B.A. in TV and Radio Broadcasting Journalism. Alshaer has 6 years of experience in journalism. She currently works as a reporter, editor and presenter/producer for PBC-Palestine TV and Jerusalem24 radio. She’s a UN and Kelley School of Business alumna.

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