Occupied Ramallah, 22 May 2013 - Thaer Halahleh, a 34-year old detainee and former hunger striker from Hebron, confirmed to Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association’s lawyer Fares Ziad that he has contracted a dangerous illness called Hepatitis as a result of medical malpractice in prison. Thaer explained to his lawyer that he contracted this illness during his interrogation in Askalan Prison. He has been suffering from pain in his right chest and stomach, especially in the kidney, and pains in his back and teeth. He was only granted a doctor’s visit after fifteen days of continuous, 24-hour interrogation. At that time, a dentist performed a tooth extraction on his top left molar and he was given a large variety and quantity of medicines for the injury.
Halahleh indicated that during his tooth extraction, the dentist used non-sterile medical tools, and that he could see traces of blood on the tools. Hepatitis is an infectious disease that can be transmitted from non-sterile medical equipment, which is how Halahleh believes he contracted this illness.
Halahleh added that he was moved to Ofer Prison on 8 May 2013. That is where he met with a doctor who gave him the results of his tests that he took at Askalan Prison, showing that he suffers from Hepatitis, which, if left untreated, will lead to his death. This is in addition to his back pain, dental problems and weak eyesight. The doctor recommended that his son and wife be tested for the Hepatitis in order to confirm that they do not suffer from the same illness, in which case responsibility for the transmission is likely to have taken place during his arrest and period in detention.
According to Halahleh, he was not subject to any injury or blood test that could have transmitted the infection except for the dental operation he underwent with the non-sterile tools. Currently, he is not receiving the medication that he needs in order to prevent the Hepatitis from worsening. During his arrest, Halahleh reports, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) stormed his house on 8 April 2013 around 1 AM. The process of arrest was extremely brutal: he was severely beaten, was repeatedly punched in his left eye, and was hit on all parts of his body in front of his wife and children. The soldiers also dragged him out of the house, where they blindfolded him and shackled his arms and legs. They also assaulted him before lifting him into the military vehicle. Two soldiers held each of his arms and they began banging his head on the glass of the vehicle and on the vehicle‘s body. They then placed him in the military vehicle and took him to Beit El detention center. They arrived to Beit El around 2:30 AM and threw him on the ground and left him out in the cold until 7:00 AM. They also subjected him to assault and threats at Beit El, telling him that they had been meaning to kill him for quite some time. After 7:00 AM, they transferred Halahleh to Al-Moskobiyeh detention center (Russian Compound) in Jerusalem. During the transfer, they drove very quickly and would stop all of a sudden in order to make Halahleh reel inside the car, causing him pain. Halahleh‘s requests that they desist were met only with laughter and insults from the soldiers. When they reached Al-Moskobiyeh, the soldiers assaulted Halahleh yet again.
Halahleh added that he spent two days in Al-Moskobiyeh and was then transferred to Askalan Prison, where he was immediately taken into interrogation. He was kept in interrogation continuously 24 hours a day, day and night. During this time, he was periodically given a mere 10 minutes to eat and rest. Every time he fell asleep during the interrogation as a result of his extreme fatigue, the interrogator would wake him up by screaming and banging on the table.
It is important to note that Thaer Halahleh was previously released 10 months ago after undertaking a continuous hunger strike for 77 days in protest of his administrative detention. He has had several previous detentions. He is married and has a daughter (Lamar), who is 2 years old. His lawyer, Fares Ziyad, added that Halahleh will be brought before the military court in Ofer on 27 May 2013.
Addameer denounces the deplorable and deliberate medical neglect that Thaer Halahleh has been subject to, as well as the cruel and systematic torture that he suffered at the hands of Israeli soldiers and the interrogator. Addameer demands that the United Nations, the International Red Cross and World Health Organization intervene immediately on behalf of sick prisoners and investigate the nature of their treatment, as well as the conditions of their detention. Addameer further calls for pressure on the Occupying State to end its policy of medical neglect.