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Israel: Palestinian Prisoners must pay for Health

Israel: Palestinian Prisoners must pay for Health


Israel Prison Service (IPS) relieved itself of responsibility for the health care of Palestinian prisoners in its custody and discriminates between them and other prisoners

Ahmad Yousef Mahmoud al-Tamimi, resident of Ramallah, age, married with 3 children, was arrested by Israel on 11 November 1993 and was given a life sentence in July 1994.

The prisoner suffers from kidney failure and receives three dialysis treatments a week, in the Medical Center of the Israel Prison Service (MC-IPS), to which he was transferred in 2001. In 2003, after undergoing certain tests, he was deemed suitable for a transplant. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel passed on the information of his nephew, the donor, to the IPS demanding that the transplant be conducted. The operation has not been conducted since the IPS refuses to cover the costs, and relieved itself of all responsibility for the health of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

In 2005, PHR-Israel contacted Dr. Alex Adler, the Chief Medical Officer at the IPS and demanded that it set a date for the transplant and that the donor undergo all needed examinations. On 16 August 2005 Dr. Adler replied that a transplant from a living donor would be at the prisoner’s expense and asked that he pay $90,000. The reply ended: “when there is a financial arrangement we will be happy to continue the treatment”.

Adv. Johana Lehrman, who represents Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, asked for a clarification regarding the demand for payment, which contradicts the IPS’s obligation to care for all those under its custody. In his response Dr. Adler noted that the Israeli National Health Insurance Act (NHIA) only applies to Israeli citizens and that the prisoner can pay for the operation on his own and conduct it in any medical center in Israel that does transplants. The cost: $100,000 ($10,000 higher than before).

According to the Israeli law, any prisoner held in Israel is eligible for medical care and the IPS must cover the cost. The IPS’s claim that the NHIA is only for citizens is wrong (it applies to all residents) and is irrelevant, as the prisoners under its custody do not receive their medical care due to this law, but rather as per the IPS Commissionership’s Order.

Furthermore, in the State’s reply to a petition filed by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel vs. The Minister of Interior Security (2002), it stated that not only is “the basket of services offered to prisoners identical to the basket of services stipulated in the NHIA”, but specifically stated that “in addition to the said basket of services, which is given the prisoner population, all prisoners held in custody (whether they are residents of Israel or not) are eligible for an additional list of medical services and devices which are all completely funded by the IPS and which are not included in the basic basket of services for which a resident of Israel is eligible under NHIA”.

The IPS’s response in the al-Tamimi case shows that the IPS is relieving itself of responsibility for the Palestinian prisoners, discriminates between them and the other prisoners, and betrayed its obligation to offer medical services to all those in its custody.

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