Fourth Case in 2019: Palestinian Prisoner Dies in Israeli Prison Suspicions of Medical Neglect Arise
On Tuesday morning, 26 November 2019, Palestinian prisoner, Sami Abu-Diak (36) died at al-Ramla prison clinic. Abu-Diak, from Silat al-Dahr village near Jenin, had spent 17 years in Israeli prison, and was recently transferred to the clinic in Israel due to his deteriorating health condition, as he had cancer since 2015. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) holds Israeli authorities responsible for Abu-Daik’s death, and expresses its concern that Israeli authorities stalled in providing adequate and timely medical care for the deceased. PCHR condemns the Israeli neglect of numerous calls for Abu-Diak’s release, as is standard in humanitarian cases like his, despite knowledge of his ailing health, choosing to leave him to die in prison.
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) had arrested Abu-Diak on 17 July 2002 and he was given three-life-time sentences in addition to another 30 years. Abu-Diak was diagnosed with cancer after undergoing a gastrectomy at Soroka Medical Center in 2015 as he suffered both pulmonary and renal failures.
IOF refused all calls by human rights groups and others to release Abu-Diak, and kept him in custody at al-Ramla prison clinic, commonly referred to as “the slaughterhouse” in reference to the poor treatment and care provided at it, despite knowledge of his ailing health. Abu-Diak’s legs and arms were cuffed to his bed. IOF had scheduled a hearing for his release request on 02 December 2019; unfortunately, Abu-Diak did not survive. A letter that Abu-Diak wrote while at al-Ramla clinic has gone viral on social media websites, it reads:
“To every person with a conscience, I live my last hours and days. All I want is to be with my mother and die in her arms. I do not want to die while my hands and feet are cuffed, nor do I wish to die in front of a jailer who loves death and delights by our pains and sufferings.”
It should be mentioned that Abu-Diak is the 4th Palestinian prisoner to die in Israeli prisons in 2019. On 06 February, Fares Mohammed Baroud (51), who spent 28 years in the Israeli jails, from al-Shati’ refugee camp in western Gaza City, died only hours after being transferred from “Ramon” Prison to “Soroka” Hospital in circumstances raising suspicions of deliberate medical negligence by the Israeli authorities, especially that he suffered problems in the stomach, heart and liver. Also on 16 July, Nassar Majed Taqatqah (31), from Beit Fajjar village, south of Bethlehem, died while in solitary confinement in “Nitzan” Prison (al-Ramlah) in Israel. IOF arrested the late Nassar from his house on 09 June 2019 and investigated him. While Bassam al-Sayeh (47), from Nablus, died on 08 September 2019, under circumstances that incite suspicions of an intentional medical neglect by the Israeli authorities, especially that the deceased suffered from bone cancer before his arrest and his condition deteriorated while in custody as he was diagnosed with leukemia. His condition further deteriorated and he was pronounced dead at Assaf Harofeh medical centre in Israel.
PCHR holds the Israeli government fully responsible for the death of Abu-Diak, and for the lives of dozens of sick prisoners who would face the same fate if the policy of deliberate medical negligence continues, especially under the inhumane and humiliating imprisonment conditions where prisoners are subject to physical and psychological torture and are denied adequate healthcare. Additionally, PCHR:
- Stresses the general deterioration of imprisonment conditions of at least 6,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, as Israel exercises punitive measures against them, including, but not limited to, medical neglect and inadequate treatment provided to at least 150 prisoners with chronic and serious illnesses.
- Calls upon the international community to compel Israel to respect international law and international humanitarian law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention and the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.