Medical Conditions for Palestinian Prisoners Called “Deliberate Negligence”

This web review was written for and published by l’Osservatorio Research Center in January 2018. It’s published form can be viewed here.

Supporters of the 2017 Hunger Strike that demanded better access to medical treatment. © Image via en.farsnews.com

The recent death of a 57 year old prisoner to cancer highlights inhumane conditions for Palestinian prisoners who need medical attention.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, an NGO focused on the rights of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, has reported the death of 57 year old Hussain Hassani Ataollah. Ataollah was diagnosed with cancer 9 months ago, according to the NGO, and “suffered a deliberate medical negligence from Israeli authorities.”

Ataollah was in the 22nd year of a 32 year sentence for the alleged killing of an Israeli police officer in the occupied West Bank village of Taybeh. He had been held in a Ramla prison before being transferred to a hospital near Nablus on Wednesday, 17 January, after slipping into a coma, and died there Saturday, 20 January.

The right to proper medical care for Palestinian prisoners has been an ongoing struggle. Prisoners are treated by medics employed by the Israeli Prison Service. “Prison physicians are not members of the Israel Medical Association;” says Dr Rachel Stroumsa, Executive Director of Public Committee Against Torture – Israel, “they receive no training in identifying and documenting torture and ill-treatment; and the vast majority of them do not speak Arabic.” The combination of the lack of access to impartial medical professionals and well documented abuses by Israeli forces during the detainment, interrogation, and transfer of prisoners has become what some organizations call collusion or torture.

Improved access to medical care was one of the leading demands of the hunger strike that over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners of Israel took part in last year. Over 7,000 Palestinians are imprisoned across Israel and the Occupied Territories. Several hundred of those prisoners are children, with between 500 and 700 children aged 12-17 going through the Israeli Prison Service system every year. More than 400 of the over 7,000 prisoners are being held without trial, including nine Palestinian lawmakers.