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Israel's Ethnic Discrimination Results In Death

Ethno-National Discrimination Results In Death

Ethno-National Discrimination Results in Death

Mohammed Abu Ashiba, age 79, lived in the unrecognized village of Um Matnan near Keseifa. Four years ago, Abu Ashiba contracted chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a serious chronic lung disease. Since then he was ventilated from an oxygen cylinder all day long. In September 2006 his condition deteriorated significantly and he was hospitalized.

After his hospitalization, his physicians prescribed treatment with a BIPAP machine - an electrical device that regulates the airflow pressures in the lungs and prevents obstruction. The physicians determined that use of this device was vital for Mohammed's survival and health condition, and that there was no medical alternative for this machine.

Although a BIPAP machine can be leased from the voluntary organization Yad Sarah, its leasing was pointless in this case, since the machine must be connected to electricity in order to function: Abu Ashiba lived in an unrecognized village, and therefore his home was not connected to the national grid.

Lacking the possibility to be treated by the machine, Abu Ashiba's medical condition deteriorated. He was hospitalized, connected to a BIPAP machine until his condition improved, and so the cycle would begin again.

After Abu Ashiba's son contacted PHR-Israel, on 15.6.06 we addressed the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of National Infrastructures, and the Ministry of the Interior and demanded that his home be connected to the electric grid in view of his medical condition. However, the Ministry of National Infrastructures and the Ministry of the Interior claimed that Abu Ashiba's home had been built illegally and, accordingly, could not be connected to the electric grid.

Although the Ministry of Health recognized the need to find a solution for Abu-Ashiba's condition, it did not undertake any practical attempts to do so.

The case of Abu Ashiba is only one example illustrating the plight of thousands of chronic patients in the unrecognized villages in the Negev who suffer due to Israel's refusal to connect the villages to basic infrastructures, including electricity. PHR-Israel monitored figures for the number of chronic patients in the villages in cooperation with the Council for the Unrecognized Villages.

The examination revealed that 15-20 percent of the population of the villages suffers from chronic diseases, and that most of this population requires electricity in order to improve its medical condition.

The state excuses its failure to provide infrastructures in the unrecognized villages by using bureaucratic statements, relating to its refusal to grant recognition to the villages. However, the mask of bureaucracy cannot hide the profound ethno-national discrimination directed toward the villages, intended to lead to the concentration of the Bedouin Arabs in towns and to the usurping of their land and way of living.

This discriminative policy uses health in a dangerous and unacceptable way: it prevents health from those who refuse to surrender to it. In this case, it led to deterioration in the medical condition of an elderly person and to his suffering during the last days of his life.

The state has act immediately on granting recognition to the unrecognized villages, and providing their population with their crucial needs.


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