[Ppnews] Palestinian Knesset member Ahmad Tibi says Issawi risks death in Israeli jail

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Feb 4 11:24:12 EST 2013

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MK Tibi says Issawi risks death in Israeli jail*
Published today (updated) 04/02/2013 17:28


JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Long-term hunger striker Samer Issawi is at risk of 
death after refusing food for 187 days, Palestinian Knesset member Ahmad 
Tibi said Monday.

Tibi, who visited Issawi in Ramle prison clinic, said the prisoner's 
health condition is critical. In a statement, the MK described Issawi as 
pale and skeletal, weighing only 48 kg.

 From a wheelchair, Issawi told Tibi he was determined to continue his 

"The only choices I have are to triumph or die a martyr. I feel I am 
closer to martyrdom, and the battle I am fighting isn't a personal one 
as I am seeking to protect national accomplishments achieved within the 
Shalit deal," he said.

Issawi was released in the Oct. 2011 prisoner swap agreement between 
Israel and Hamas, which secured the release of Israeli soldier Gilad 
Shalit from Gaza.

He was rearrested on July 7 and accused of violating the terms of his 
release by leaving Jerusalem. Israeli prosecutors are seeking to cancel 
his amnesty and detain him for 20 years, the remainder of his previous 

Issawi told Tibi he is willing to be tried in a magistrates court and to 
serve a short sentence for entering areas "which are in the first place 
part of my homeland," but he will not agree to serve another 20 years in 
Israeli jails.

Tibi informed the prisoner he had contacted Arab and international 
officials and human rights groups to lobby for his release.

"We want you alive between us so you can continue to fight for your 
people and homeland, and we are looking forward to visiting you at home 
after you triumph in this hunger strike God willing," he told Issawi.

On Monday, activists gathered outside Ramle prison to demonstrate in 
solidarity with Issawi and other prisoners on hunger strike.


  Will Samer Issawi be the next victim of medical neglect by the Israeli
  Prison Service?

Submitted by Shahd Abusalama on Sun, 02/03/2013 - 23:06


Reading "With My Own Eyes" by the Israeli lawyer Felicia Langer 
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felicia_Langer> brought painful scenes to 
my mind, but my faith in humanity grew deeper. While the Zionists might 
proclaim "woe to the vanquished," there were Jewish people in Palestine, 
such as Langer, who, more profoundly, recognized it was "woe to the 
victor." Langer was one who fought bravely against the unjust Israeli 
system throughout her 23-year career. She defended my father Ismael 
in Israeli courts. He has always spoken about her with admiration and 
respect for her humanity and firmness.

In her book, she wrote that she met my father on April 6, 1972 in 
Kafaryouna, an Israeli interrogation center. "Ismael Abusalama, a 
19-year-old man who lives in Jabalia Refugee Camp, is a refugee 
originally from Beit-Jerja." She mentioned Dad's cousin who was killed 
by the Israeli occupation forces after the Six-Day War in 1967. Langer 
quoted my father's words, "I saw how children were being brutally shot 
dead in the Camp's streets by the Israeli border guards. I witnessed the 
murder of a little girl who was just leaving her school when an Israeli 
soldier from the border guards shot her dead. They raid the camp with 
their thick batons beating up every human. They break into the houses 
inhabited by women without knocking at their doors. They mix the flour 
with oil during their aggressive inspections deliberately and without 
any necessity."

On page 352, she recorded a painful story of my father's that she 
witnessed. While reading it, my heart ached to imagine my father in such 
brutal conditions. She wrote, "After his arrest in Jabalia Camp on 
January 1, 1972, they dragged him to the Gaza police center while 
beating him with batons all the way. They showered him with extremely 
cold water in winter while soldiers continued to attack him with batons 
everywhere, and punched him very violently to the extent that he lost 
his sense of hearing. This continued for 10 days." She quoted my father 
saying, "They threatened me with being expelled to Amman and 
assassinating me there if I didn't say what they wanted to hear."

I have no doubt that she tried hard to expose the reality and prove my 
father and other detainees innocent, but Israel's unjust judicial system 
was perhaps stronger than her then. Her dedicated investigations and 
defense of the truth didn't stop Israel from sentencing my father to 
seven life sentences and 35 years! I appreciate her book, which exposes 
the injustices of the Israeli occupation and the rotten justice system 
in Israel. She has always repeated that the aggressor can never win. And 
I have faith that Israel will never win and Palestine shall be free.

Surprisingly, I only learned this story from her book and haven't heard 
it from Dad. When I read that story about him losing his sense of 
hearing, I asked him about it and he confirmed and continued, "but I was 
never sent to hospital."

"Detainees suffer intensively from medical neglect," he said. "Small 
health problems can become critical with constant negligence. I 
thankfully survived, but many others didn't and were left with permanent 
disabilities or health problems that led in some cases to their death."

He stopped for a moment and continued, "Actually, such cases, maybe 
death isn't the appropriate word. Murder sounds better."

Medical neglect is one of the major brutal policies the Israeli Prison 
Service (IPS) practices intentionally against Palestinian political 
prisoners which Langer aimed to highlight in her book.

"IPS deliberately aims to harm Palestinian detainees' physical and 
mental health in any possible way," my father repeatedly says and many 
released prisoners have agreed.  Because of this, access to proper 
medical care has been always on the top of detainees' demands whenever 
they go on mass hunger strikes.

Akram Rikhawi 
whose 102-day hunger strike ended July 22, 2012 , has chosen to shoulder 
the responsibility for hundreds of disabled and ill political prisoners 
who grieve daily behind Israel's bars and suffer its medical neglect. 
Since his first day of detention in 2004, he was held in Ramleh prison 
hospital <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/ramleh-prison-hospital>, 
described by him and many prisoners as "a slaughterhouse, not a 
hospital, with jailers wearing doctors' uniforms."

Akram ended his hunger strike 
in exchange for an agreement by Israel for his early release. As part of 
the agreement, Akram was supposed to be released on January 25, 2013. 
But it's been more than a week since that date passed, yet we have heard 
nothing regarding his release. This is more evidence that Israel never 
keeps any promises or agreements.

Ramleh stands as a nightmare for many detainees because of the inhumane 
procedures for them to receive a medical check, such as the long hours 
of waiting, being shackled from hands to feet, being aggressively 
treated during transfer from jail to hospital, and being treated as 
inferior by the racist doctors there. Many former detainees I 
interviewed repeatedly described this procedure as "torment." One said, 
"Only when pain becomes intolerable will many prisoners call the IPS to 
allow them a visit to Ramleh Hospital Prison. They fear the humiliation 
and torture once their call is met after a long wait."

As the Palestinian prisoners' rights group Addameer recently reported 
<http://www.addameer.org/etemplate.php?id=561>, "Since 1967, over 200 
prisoners have died in captivity, fifty-one of them from medical 
negligence. Alarmingly, there is a recent trend of prisoners who have 
died shortly after they are released from medical complications that 
went untreated during their detention."

On January 22nd,  I came home from my last exam of the semester very 
happy and relieved that I could finally sleep without worrying about 
loads of studies. I put myself in bed and decided to check my Facebook 
before I closed my eyes. I saw a video shared by my friend Loai Odeh 
that turned my happiness into sadness and my relief into distress. My 
desire to sleep escaped me.

The video's Arabic title read 
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWdErEyuPzQ>, "The last words the martyr 
Ashraf Abu Dhra' uttered before he fell in a coma." I had no idea who 
Ashraf was then. A young man in weak physical shape lay on a hospital 
bed in the video. While struggling to make his voice as loud and clear 
as possible, he said, "When I got sick, they only prescribed me 
paradicamol and released me. When I went to the hospital the medics 
discovered that I have a severe inflammation. Thank God. My faith eases 

Then I Googled his name and the ambiguity behind the pronouns he used 
became no longer ambiguous and learned that Ashraf, a 29-year-old from 
Hebron, was released recently after a detention of six and a half years 
in Ramleh prison hospital. Only then did I realize that the pronoun 
"they" refers to the IPS.

Ashraf was released on November 15, 2012. He spent only ten days outside 
Ramleh prison hospital at home, surrounded by his beloved family. But 
those ten days were an extension of the pain he suffered during his 
imprisonment. Then he fell in a coma until his death on January 21, 
2013, which could have been avoided if he had access to better medical 
care. Israel must be held responsible for the murder of Ashraf.

As Addameer added <http://www.addameer.org/etemplate.php?id=561> in 
their report:

    Ashraf had a long history of medical problems that predate his
    arrest; he suffered from muscular dystrophy and as a result became
    wheelchair bound in 2008 during his imprisonment. During his
    detention he contracted several illnesses including lung failure,
    immunodeficiency and a brain virus that eventually lead to his death.

    Due to the frequent denial of medical treatment by the Israeli
    Prison Service (IPS), Ashraf suffered a slow and painful death that
    was exasperated by neglect and the prison service's refusal to
    provide court-ordered treatment. In 2008, Physicians for Human
    Rights - Israel (PHR-I) submitted a request to the Israeli district
    court for Ashraf to receive physical therapy. Although the court
    granted Ashraf this request, the ruling was ignored by the Ramleh
    prison hospital, who refused treatment claiming that it was
    unnecessary. Ashraf was held in captivity despite his failing health
    for the entirety of his sentence, rarely seeing an independent doctor.

    Ashraf's lack of proper medical treatment in his six and a half
    years violates several international human rights laws, specifically
    article 56, 91 and 92 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that obliges
    the occupying authority to provide "adequate treatment" for each
    detainee and medical care "not inferior than the care provided to
    the general population."

Learning about the murder of Ashraf Abu Dhra' made my worry over Samer 
Issawi double. Samer's health is rapidly deteriorating due to his 
historic and heroic refusal of food which has continued 194 days in 
protest of his re-arrest for no charge or trial. His hunger is gradually 
taking over his body, but as he said earlier, "my determination will 
never weaken." 

He started his battle with a promise that he would only retreat from it 
as a martyr. Samer has tasted the bitterness of imprisonment for 12 
years before. But once he was re-arrested in July 2012, with no charge 
or trial, he decided to rebel to send a message to his captors that they 
couldn't decide his destiny. He doesn't do this from love for death. He 
loves life, but in the form he has always longed to have, a life of 
freedom and dignity.

Serious actions are needed as Samer stands at the edge of death. He 
suffers from severe pain all over his body, especially in his abdomen 
and kidney. He has double vision, dizziness, and fractures in his rib 
cage from a brutal attack by Israeli soldiers while he was handcuffed to 
his wheelchair at a court hearing. This injury has caused severe and 
persistent pains that leave him sleepless day and night.

We shouldn't sit idly and watch Samer slowly die. We don't want to count 
more Palestinian detainee as martyrs. If Samer dies, it will be a glory 
for him, but a shame for us. Our silence allows Israel to cross all red 
lines. Save Samer from being the next victim of medical neglect after 
Ashraf Abu Dhra'. Act now to rescue the lives of Samer and all hunger 

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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