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Palestinian Prisoner Denied Access To Care -- PHR

PHR-Israel: Palestinian prisoner denied access to care

In December 2005, PHR-Israel submitted a petition, demanding that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) pay for a kidney transplant for Ahmad Al-Tamimi, a Palestinian prisoner. After approximately two years, throughout which IPS and Beilinson Hospital withheld the examinations, which finally showed that the potential donor matches Al-Tamimi, and therefore that the transplant is medically feasible, the court ruled that IPS must pay for the transplant.

Ahmad Al-Tamimi is a Palestinian prisoner serving life sentence since November 1993. Tamimi has been suffering from renal failure and receives regular hemodialysis treatments. He is held in the IPS medical center. Although one of Al-Tamimi's family members was able to donate a kidney, IPS refused to pay for the transplant, claiming that it is unnecessary as long as hemodialysis treatments continue without complications.

However, Dr. Doron Schwartz, head of the nephrology ward at the Soraski Medical Center (Ichilov) in Tel-Aviv, told PHR-Israel that "...life expectancy of a 40-44 years old patient under hemodialysis treatments is 8 years. If the patient undergoes a transplant, life expectancy rises to 23 years. The sooner the transplant is performed, the higher life expectancy will be."

In December 2005, attorney Johanna Lerman filed a petition on behalf of PHR-Israel, demanding that IPS pay for Al-Tamimi's transplant. After approximately two years, Judge David Rosen ruled on Sunday, 28/10/07, that IPS must pay for the transplant.

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Rosen wrote that "the petitioner is a resident of the occupied territories. However, as he is being held under the auspices of the state, the state is obliged to give him the same medical treatment given to Israeli citizens by the public system." During the court discussion, the State Attorney mentioned that criminal prisoners in need of transplants and those expecting transplants, are given parole, in accordance with section 7c in the Israeli Law of parole.

It is important to note that court discussions regarding the transplant resulted in a five-year delay of the transplant. This has certainly decreased Tamimi's life expectancy and harmed his quality of life.

These unreasonable delays, as well as IPS's insistence that the transplant is unnecessary, and that the hemodialysis treatment is sufficient, would not have been possible in a medical system which allows for transparency, and which is supervised by the Ministry of Health.

As opposed to the citizens of Israel, who benefit from this type of system due to the National Health Insurance Law, prisoners held by the IPS receive medical services from the IPS itself as part of the "public health ordinance". IPS and the Ministry of Public Security supervise these medical services. The conflict of interests between medical needs and a security authority, along with limited budgets, essentially prevent the sick prisoners from receiving optimal medical treatment.

Eventually, their ability to submit complaints about delays in treatment is also harmed. Today, Palestinian prisoners held for security reasons can only file complaints through human rights organizations and lawyers It is very difficult for them to file a complaint regarding medical or other problems, as they hardly have any access to the outside world.

They cannot make phone calls, many of them are not allowed to have family visits due to security considerations, and the number of letters they can write or receive is limited.

The only people from the outside world they are allowed to meet are ICRC representatives, who make visits once every several months, or lawyers from Israeli and Palestinian Human rights organizations who occasionally make visits to prisoners based on the families' requests.


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