Ramallah, 22 January 2013 - Addameer sends its condolences to the family of Ashraf Abu Dhra’, a recently released prisoner who passed away last night as a result of medical negligence in an Israeli Occupation prison.
Ashraf, 29 years old from Beit 'Awwa in Hebron, was arrested on 16 May 2006 and sentenced to six and a half years in Ramleh prison. Ashraf had a long history of medical problems that predate his arrest; he suffered from muscular dystrophy and as a result became wheelchair bound in 2008 during his imprisonment. During his detention he contracted several illnesses including lung failure, immunodeficiency and a brain virus that eventually lead to his death.
Due to the frequent denial of medical treatment by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), Ashraf suffered a slow and painful death that was exasperated by neglect and the prison service’s refusal to provide court-ordered treatment. In 2008, Physicians for Human Rights - Israel (PHR-I) submitted a request to the Israeli district court for Ashraf to receive physical therapy. Although the court granted Ashraf this request, the ruling was ignoredby the Ramleh prison hospital, who refused treatment claiming that it was unnecessary. Ashraf was held in captivity despite his failing health for the entirety of his sentence, rarely seeing an independent doctor.
Ashraf was released on 15 November 2012, and merely ten days later fell into a coma until his death on 21 January 2013, a death that would have been preventable had he been provided with appropriate medical care during his detention.
Ashraf’s lack of proper medical treatment in his six and a half years violates several international human rights laws, specifically article 56, 91 and 92 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that obliges the occupying authority to provide “adequate treatment” for each detainee and medical care “not inferior than the care provided to the general population.”
Since 1967, over 200 prisoners have died in captivity, fifty-one of them from medical negligence. Alarmingly, there is a recent trend of prisoners who have died shortly after they are released from medical complications that went untreated during their detention. Addameer has documented three such cases in the past thirteen months alone, including Zakaria Issa who died from cancer on 2 January 2012 - less than five months after his release from detention - due to Israel’s refusal to grant him permission to travel to Jordan for specialized treatment.
Ashraf’s death raises serious concerns for the prisoners and detainees who are currently on hunger strike as their health continues to deteriorate and are being denied independent medical treatment by the IPS. Jafar Azzidine, Yousef Yassin and Tarek Qa’adan who have been on hunger strike for 56 days, were not transferred to the Ramleh Prison Hospital until three weeks into their hunger strike, causing great danger to their lives. Similarly, Samer Issawi who has been on partial hunger strike for 174 days, has been routinely denied adequate treatment.
Addameer demands that the United Nations, International Committee of the Red Cross and the World Health Organization intervene immediately on behalf of the the patient prisoners, who total more than thirty, to prevent further cases of death by medical negligence like Ashraf’s. Furthermore, Addameer demands that greater action be taken to investigate the nature of care provided to patient prisoners in the Ramleh prison hospital and put pressure on the Israel to cease its policy of medical negligence. Addamer also calls on the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to develop a national strategy for the release of prisoners and to give greater attention to the issue of prisoners and their health.
*Write to the Israeli government, military and legal authorities and demand the adequate treatment for ill prisoners.
· Brigadier General Danny Efroni
Military Judge Advocate General
6 David Elazar Street
Harkiya, Tel Aviv
Fax: +972 3 608 0366; +972 3 569 4526
· Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon
OC Central Command Nehemia Base, Central Command
Neveh Yaacov, Jerusalam
Fax: +972 2 530 5741
· Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak
Ministry of Defense
37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya
Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
Fax: +972 3 691 6940 / 696 2757
· Col. Eli Bar On
Legal Advisor of Judea and Samaria PO Box 5
Beth El 90631
Fax: +972 2 9977326
*Write to your own elected representatives urging them to pressure Israel to provide adequate treatment to ill prisoners.