Misdiagnosis, Negligence and Mistreatment- How the Israeli Prison Establishment Violates Palestinians Human Rights

When 54 year old Faisal Sabaneh arrived from the Salem military court north of Jenin back to the Megiddo Prison in historic Palestine, a few hundred meters south of Tel Megiddo, where he was being held during his latest of 8 arrests and subsequent administrative detention and imprisonments for baseless charges of political affiliation to Hamas, the Dr. who had been treating him for high blood pressure rushed out to meet him.  “The doctor asked me if I felt tired.  I said I did.  He told me he needed to take me to the hospital immediately.  But that I might not be alive by the time we got there.”

54 year old Faisal Sabaneh nearly died after being given the incorrect dosage of his medication while imprisoned in Israel's Megiddo prison.

54 year old Faisal Sabaneh nearly died after being given the incorrect dosage of his medication while imprisoned in Israel’s Megiddo prison.

Eight days earlier, the Dr. saw fit to quadruple Faisal’s dose of the blood thinner Coumadin from half tablet daily to two tablets.  Faisal argued against the move, but the Dr. inside of the prison insisted on the increase- as well as giving him a diabetes type II diagnosis which he had never been aware of before his arrest and which was not found in medical tests after his release.

During the eight days, Faisal was given only one blood test- on the morning of the eighth day just before being transferred to a Salem court room awaiting his hearing.  This was when his blood tests revealed dangerous and life threatening levels of the blood thinner (10.2 to a normal 2.2).  Faisal was near death and though the Megiddo Dr. knew the dangerous medical situation he was in, he did not have a waiting ambulance for Faisal as he arrived back from court, but instead had him transferred in a private car to al Afoulah Hospital where he his condition was declared critical when blood tests showed his levels had risen to 10.8.   “When I finally came through it, the Dr. told me I was lucky to be alive and whoever raised the level of my Coumadin dosage was trying to kill me.

A prominent Palestinian cardiologist working in the United States verified that the quadrupled dosage, though the raised dosage occurs, was negligent in the lack of subsequent blood testing on an every-other-day basis.  This means that three crucially important blood tests were failed to be given in the days after the dosage upping.

From the UN website on the standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/TreatmentOfPrisoners.aspx, ‘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.’   But given the lack of proper medical care and inappropriate pharmaceutical application in many reported cases of Palestinian prisoners, it is clear that inside of Israeli prisons, Palestinians’ human rights are not being recognized.

In what head of the prisoner’s committee, Issa Qaraqe’ called, “medical negligence against Palestinians in Israeli prisons, in addition to the doctoral errors which lead to greater crimes against the prisoners,” Jafar Awad (22), a released prisoner, was announced dead on April 10th of this year after being given the wrong insulin shot in Ishel Israeli prison in occupied Beersheba, where he spent 14 months and was released on January 21st in bad health conditions. “His illness and health complexities started when he was given wrong insulin shots, causing him neck inflation, inability to speak, pain in the head, trembling in the body and an impaired vision.”  At the young martyr’s funeral, his cousin Ziad Musleh (25)  was announced dead after he was shot in clashes with Israeli forces.  PNN reported that “Mourners raised the Palestinian flags in addition to slogans pictures of the martyr Jafar, denouncing the Israeli crimes against the prisoners and praising the prisoners.”  http://english.pnn.ps/index.php/national/9502-another-martyr-killed-during-funeral-of-released-prisoner-jafar-awad

22 year old Jafar Awad died after being given incorrect medication while imprisoned in Israeli prison.  via MEE

22 year old Jafar Awad died after being given incorrect medication while imprisoned in Israeli prison. via MEE

Ziyad Awad, shot and killed on Friday, was attending the funeral of his cousin, Jafar, who died after he was given incorrect medication in an Israeli prison- image via MEE

Ziyad Awad, shot and killed on Friday, was attending the funeral of his cousin, Jafar, who died after he was given incorrect medication in an Israeli prison- image via MEE

When one hundred detainees in Ofer, Megiddo and Naqab prisons went on hunger strike last year on April 24th to protest Israel’s inhuman, yet commonly utilized, indefinite administrative detention stratagem; a process by which Palestinians are subjected to endless terms in prison facilities without charge, trial, legal representation or familial communications, Addameer, the Palestinian human rights group, reported that Israel was punishing the hunger-striking prisoners by isolating them, handcuffing them for ten hours a day, and denying them salt, putting their lives at risk:

Furthermore, the IPS [Israel Prison Service] has been denying the hunger strikers salt for the last two weeks. Prisoners who engage in hunger strikes still take liquids and salt, as they are essential for survival.

Denial of salt is a continuation of the punishments against hunger strikers, and despite the grave danger it imposes on the lives of the detainees, has been institutionalized by the Israeli Supreme Court. In 2004, the Israeli Supreme Court denied a petition by Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and several other Palestinian and Israeli NGOs [non-governmental organizations] that demanded the IPS provide salt on a daily basis to hunger-striking prisoners as its denial breaches the constitutional rights of the prisoner.  http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/maureen-clare-murphy/hunger-striking-palestinian-prisoners-punished-israel

Medical neglect is systemic within the Israeli prison establishment which has churned hundreds of thousands of Palestinians through its interrogation centers, detention facilities and prisons since the occupation of Palestinian land in 1967.  Nearly 60 Palestinians have died in the interim from medical negligence yet this transgression of their human rights continues to play out.  “Israeli authorities responsible for prisoners regularly neglect their duties to provide medical support for Palestinian prisoners in their care, as required by the Geneva Conventions. Medical problems are widespread, and range in severity from chest infections and diarrhea to heart problems and kidney failure. Treatment is often inadequate and is delivered after substantial delays. Often medication is limited to over-the-counter pain killers.”  http://www.addameer.org/etemplate.php?id=359

From a human rights and international law breaking detention process to the prison hospital beds where suffer detainees from the wholesale neglect of  proper medical treatment- with so many Palestinians locked inside Israeli prisons- including children, the elderly, the sick and those with pre-existing medical conditions worsened by the tremendous emotional and physical distress of imprisonment, international intervention is not only called for, it is our collective responsibility.