[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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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