Largest Palestinian hospital in Jerusalem faces closure

The corridors of what was once one of Jerusalem’s busiest Palestinian hospitals are hollow and the bed occupancy rate has dropped by 50 percent. 

With a crippling financial crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic, the looming threat of closure etches closer by the day.  

Since its establishment in 1968, the al-Makassed Islamic Charitable Society Hospital has worked hard to meet the medical needs of Palestinians hailing from the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem, becoming an integral part of the Palestinian health care system. 

Read More: Palestine’s first animal welfare charity faces challenges from the occupation and Covid-19

Over time, the facility has become the main hospital for transfer patients who prefer dealing with the Palestinian health ministry as opposed to the Israeli one, and who have complex health issues for which there is no specialised care in the West Bank and Gaza.

However, due to a myriad of factors, including Covid-19 related closures and a halt in security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), patients from these areas who normally need an Israeli army-issued medical permit to access Jerusalem have been unable to reach the hospital. 

Read More: Israel expels Palestinian woman and her baby from occupied Jerusalem

Izz al-Din Hussein, the head of the hospital and the department of internal medicine and cardiology told Middle East Eye that the hospital’s debts amount to some 160 million shekels ($47m). 

About 60 million shekels ($18m) of these debts are owed to the hospital by the Palestinian health ministry, which covers patient referrals from the West Bank and Gaza. The hospital also owes some 70 million shekels ($20m) to medical supply companies, and about 30 million shekels ($9m) in taxes, Israeli health insurance, and bank loans. 

Due to its nature as a charitable, non-profit facility, al-Makassed’s bills have accumulated over the years. For decades, the hospital has been treating large numbers of Palestinians free-of-charge, namely victims of Israeli attacks, as well as those whose Jerusalem IDs Israel has revoked or other marginalised communities in Jerusalem. 

The PA’s coverage of patient referrals varies between 80-100 percent, while the hospital covers the remainder of the bill, including for those who are unable to pay for their treatment. 

The recent financial crisis exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the hospital’s inability to pay the salaries of its 1,000 employees, 75 percent of whom come from the West Bank, and some of whom are now unable to reach the hospital due to high transportation costs.

The head of the hospital, Izz al-Din Hussein, who left the United Kingdom in 1990 to serve his people back home, witnessed the hospital’s development from 40 beds in the beginning to today’s 270 – 88 of which are designated for intensive care. 

He also witnessed the inauguration of several departments where complicated and qualitative surgeries are performed, particularly in the brain, nerves, bones, heart and chest. 

The hospital offers specialised care and hosts resident doctors.

So far, some 400 doctors from the West Bank completed their specialisations in internal medicine; pediatrics; gynecology; obstetrics; general surgery; orthopedics; cardiology; and brain and neurosurgery, in addition to diagnostic radiology and anesthesia. 

In the event that the hospital does not survive the threat of closure, all referral patients will find themselves forced to seek treatment in Israeli hospitals or outside the country – after decades of work that has seen al-Makassed succeed in offering high-quality Palestinian medical services. 

The hospital director believes the world must stand by al-Makassed in its suffocating crisis to preserve its existence as a Palestinian institution in the heart of the capital, Jerusalem.

Due to the Israeli occupation, patients in the West Bank and Gaza are required to obtain medical permits to access Jerusalem’s hospitals. Palestinian patients from these areas are sometimes able to see the city and visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Israeli control 

The threat of closure brings other concerns with it. The hospital is registered with the Federation of Israeli Associations and is subject to Israeli law due to Israel’s occupation and annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967.

“No Palestinian institution in Jerusalem that is shut down is reopened again. If the hospital is closed, its fate will be in the hands of Israel,” Hussein told MEE. 

According to Hussein, Israel spares no effort in attempting to control the hospital and present itself as seeking to support it, even offering to pay the hospital’s debts owed by the Palestinian Authority directly from the PA’s tax funds which Israel collects on behalf of it. 

But al-Makassed rejected, he said, explaining that it would not accept being part of the Israeli conspiracy against Jerusalem and the Palestinian people as a whole. 

The hospital on many occasions has also suffered from Israeli military raids of its premises, which involved the abduction of wounded Palestinian demonstrators and the bodies of those killed by Israeli forces, as well as the destruction of equipment and confiscation of documents, creating heavier burdens for the hospital and the psychological state and health of patients. 

In one incident during a military raid, Palestinians were forced to frantically carry a dead body over the hospital walls and quickly bury him in a nearby cemetery to prevent his abduction by Israeli forces. 

‘The hospital of the poor’

The hospital’s managing director, Ahmed Jadallah, told MEE that the hospital, which was described as the “the hospital of the poor” or the “Intifada hospital”, is now unable to provide treatment to the underprivileged due to the current crisis. 

He says he has not witnessed such a complicated economic situation since he began working there 35 years ago.

Meanwhile, the rapporteur of the hospital staff union, Ahmed Ayyad, told MEE that prior to Eid al-Adha, the union launched steps in protest to demand the PA pay the debts it owes. But according to Ayyad, the latter responded that the bills were inaccurate and denied that the hospital had any unpaid balances at the Ministry of Finance. 

Despite these tensions, the ministry transferred four million shekels ($1,000) to the hospital a few days before Eid al-Adha, an amount that was distributed among employees.

The hospital is also setting up a committee that will follow up with the PA’s finance ministry to audit the patients’ bills. 

In the event that the PA fails to transfer the remaining money it owes to the hospital, Ayyad says that the union will not hesitate to escalate measures against the PA, aimed at preserving the survival of this medical edifice in the occupied capital, Jerusalem.

(Source / 11.08.2020)

Hamas holds Israeli occupation responsible for COVID-19 outbreak among Palestinian detainees

Hamas held the Israeli occupation and Israeli prison service responsible for the outbreak of coronavirus among the Palestinian detainees in the Israeli prisons and their safety amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Hamas spokesperson Hazm Qasem said, in a press release on Thursday afternoon, that the increasing number of coronavirus cases among Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons confirms the growing threat facing them.

Qasem added that this outbreak proves the Israeli prison administration’s negligence to provide the Palestinian detainees with sanitisation and cleaning supplies.

Read More: Palestine’s first animal welfare charity faces challenges from the occupation and Covid-19

Qasem also pointed out that this is just one of many other examples of the Israeli deliberate medical negligence policy that led to the death of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons.

Hamas spokesperson called upon international human rights organisations to put an end to the arbitrary Israeli policies against the Palestinian detainees.

Read More: Appeal to save life of Palestinian who is infected with COVID-19 inside American jail

(Source / 10.08.2020)

Palestine records a new coronavirus death in West Bank; total 104 in Palestine

File Photo

Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed the death of another Palestinian from the coronavirus pandemic in the West Bank, which raise death toll in Palestine since March to 104.

The Ministy said that the man, 77-years-old, is from the southern West Bank city of Hebron and was chronically ill.

Most of the coronavirus deaths were in Hebron, the current epicenter of the pandemic, and its area towns and villages.

Read More: Palestine records new coronavirus death, total number 81 in Palestine

(Source / 10.08.2020)

Stolen Freedom and Health: Medical Negligence in Israeli Prisons

By Iyad al-Jerjawi
Former prisoner

“I got arrested on the 13th of June, 2011. I was on a medical trip from Gaza to the Palestinian hospitals in the occupied territories. I was transferred to Al-Makassed hospital. On my way back to the hospital, I got arrested.”

“I was taken to an interrogation centre called the Ashkelon Interrogation centre. The first humiliating experience you go through, is the frisking. Frisking with every sense of the word. He tries to humiliate you as a human. You are strip searched and all your belongings are taken away. The inspector tries to put you in a really tough mental state. Then you go through a tougher experience by staying in the prison cells. The prison cells are not fit, for any human being. The cell is a small place, with a low ceiling. The walls have a texture. Its colour is grey. Dim lighting. Bad smell. Large steel doors, which block any sound from the outside. Just a small opening in the wall, that allows for some air in the cell, without any circulation.”

“The time you spend during the interrogation, you never see the sun, and you can’t tell the day from the night. They try to make you lose control of time, to make you feel that you are in the unknown. The interrogation phase is very important. Firstly, you see Israel’s democracy. There are two types of interrogation, military interrogation, and a non-military one. What you go through is as follows, you are subjected to long hours of interrogation, shackled for long hours, up to 35 hours. The worst thing about interrogation is that it is based on psychological torture. We are talking about threats regarding your family members, and the length of your sentence. We are also talking about the use of intimidation. This is a very important factor for the prisoner, and especially when we’re talking about a sick one.”

“Whether you spent an hour, 2, 30, or 36, I have once spent 36hours straight. You only get untied for fifteen to minutes.”

“ During the interrogation phase, you only see the sun once. Here they show you the ‘good’ side of Israel, when the Red Cross visits you after 18 days. They walk you through a hallway. As you’re leaving you can feel the sun on your skin, because you are blindfolded during that phase.

“When you go to the prison after interrogation, you come under the custody of an agency called the prison service administration. Even the Israeli public opinion of this agency is low.”

“The difference between the prison’s clinic, Al-Ramleh prison’s clinic, and outside hospitals. The prison’s clinic doesn’t reach the standards of being a supermarket. Al-Ramleh prison’s clinic can only be described as human butchery.

Hospitals outside are from a different planet. Since my first day in prison, I was only given pain killers, which affected my kidneys. After a while they stopped it and refused to give me the medication I used to take. Since I had an operation done they intentionally required me to do new medical reports, and you need to go to a new doctor, etc…”

“ When I first started getting headaches, I tried different things to treat it. At times I would drink a lot of water, at others I would tie a band on my head, or it would reach the point that I would hit my head against the wall. We had no other option. If you go to the clinic, they’ll give you Acamol, or an injection of Voltaren. But it isn’t advised by doctors to take Voltaren, unless the pain is unbearable, because Voltaren is harmful for the kidneys and liver.”

“The pain spread from my head to my neck, my back, and my left shoulder. I woke up and my mouth was numb. I took no action at the time, because if I were to go to the doctor, he wouldn’t do anything to help. The next day, I woke up and I found, that the left side of my face doesn’t move. Everything on the right side was perfectly fine, yet the left… nothing. My fellow inmates notified the prison’s administration. The problem of taking me to the hospital has been ongoing for two years now.”

“It is not easy for a person to leave the prison to one of the hospitals outside the prison. Why is it difficult to go to these hospitals? Well because it will cost the IPS a lot of money, and it will uncover their crimes, such as medical negligence. This can become a bigger issue. They took me to the hospital. They ran a few tests on me. They found that I have a seventh nerve inflammation, the inflammation affected the nerves in the left lobe of the brain. The tissue was inflamed, it limited blood flow to the brain. They gave me some medication. One of the medicines they gave me was cortisone. Supposedly, according to the prescription and to the doctor, I’m supposed to take a certain dosage of it. The IPS gave it to me doubled. On the first day, I couldn’t smell with my left nostril, my sense of taste was gone, my hearing ability was decreased, pain in the left eye, and the head, and even the left side of my tongue was heavy when I was trying to talk. Once they gave me the double dose of cortisone, I stopped seeing, everything turned white. My body basically collapsed. It’ as if my body was split in two. The right side and the left side. The left side collapsed and is not functioning, the right side is functioning normally. We began trying to get the prison administration’s attention by creating noise, banging and hitting the door. They came and transferred me to the hospital. So I stayed in the hospital for my case. The next day I went back to prison, at around Asr time (mid afternoon). In the IPS van, which is the crudest thing you can experience, it’s basically made out of steel, you don’t see anything. We reached the prison, they told me they prescribed for you a new medication. The hospital informed the prison that I needed to go get an MRI scan, and I needed to take some medication, and in my case, should be seen by a neurologist. They kept postponing, until the 11th of September. On the 11th of September, I had a medical relapse, they transferred me to the hospital. They told them they would not admit me, until I got an MRI scan. So they took me back to prison. On the 11th of September, they made an appointment for me, and according to Israeli law, the approval to go out and get an MRI scan needs to happen within 3 months. What happened is the following; When you are transferred from one prison to another, it’s as if you are transferred from a different planet. All of the procedures have to begin from scratch. About a month before my scan, they transferred me from Hadarim Prison, to Jalbou’ Prison. The transfer means, well the message is clear, no mediation for you, we don’t want to help you. When they took me to Jalbou’ Prison, I initially refused to enter, I told them that this is my situation, and that I have an MRI scheduled, and taker me back to Hadarim Prison. So they gave me promises, that they will kick off the process again. From the 8th of November, the scan approval was in February of 2020. They took me to Poriya Hospital. During this whole period of time, I was in indescribable pain. Indescribable. On February 4th, they did a scan of the brain, neck and spinal cord. They refused to give me the report, or the diagnosis until February 14th or 15th.”

“ He never forgets that you he is the jailer, and that you are the prisoner. He wants to affect your mental and physical health.”

“I had an appointment in the hospital. I made a problem, bigger than you can imagine, and I refused to go back to the division. At this point, I was on the frontline of my battle with them. Organizations intervened, and pressure mounted on them.”

“The doctor, who is not necessarily a doctor, and the ‘mechanic’, or doctor told me that the situation is as follows, we sent your file to two professors in Rambam Hospital, and they are deciding to take a biopsy from you, and that if they take the biopsy, and if the results are bad there might be a possibility that your left side will become paralyzed, and your vision will be affected. They took me to Rambam Hospital, I sat with a professor. When you go to a hospital outside the prison, he doesn’t treat you like a prisoner, he treats you as a human. He told me that I have a tumor, between the first and second vertebrae, and everything in the brain is an infection as a result of the tumor. It is causing pressure on the nerves, that send signals to the senses. I asked whether it was malignant or benign, he told me that is not what matters. What matters is that you need to have an operation immediately. At the time I had 65 days left in prison. We went back to prison, with a new problem, and that is the operation. The IPS kept postponing from April, the hospital would send a date for the operation, and the IPS would cancel it, repeatedly. They started using the coronavirus, as their reasoning to cancel the operation.”

“In the early stages of coronavirus, they were treating us carelessly. The guards would go out and deal with the world, and they would come to prison, and refuse to wear masks. You could only imagine, prisons are overcrowded, and don’t have any ventilation, one case could infect the whole prison. We have a lot of sick people, and elderly prisoners. They stopped visits from lawyers, the Red Cross and all organizations, but they didn’t take any real preventative measures. The sanitizing spraying only happened after a great deal of pressure on them. Despite the virus and that countries all around the world were releasing prisoners, they were still bringing in more prisoners. They stopped putting the new prisoners under interrogation, they would put them in prison directly, which is unprecedented.”

“Back to our main topic, which is the operation, they kept postponing my operation. I requested early release. At the time I only had a few months left in my sentence. But they refused, citing that my health was okay. And when you go to a doctor he would say that I need an operation.”

“A healthy person that exercises regularly, will get worn out in prison due to the psychological pressure that he faces. I will keep mentioning the psychological aspect because it’s connected to the physical health. The amount of pressure you’re put under on a daily basis, from frisking, from raids, to suppression, to anxiety, to the sound of the shackles, to the lighting, to the monitoring. It’s as if you’re living George Orwell’s theory of ‘Big Brother.’These are all major psychological factors.”

“On the 14th of May, the hospital sent a notice, saying that you need to bring the patient, and that if the prison administration refuses, the hospital will send a complaint to the ministry of health. The hospital said that he needs to be here on the 20th of May, and prepared the operation room for me, and the lawyer was in touch with them. But the prison administration refused, and instead they gave me a court date on the 20th of May for an early release. They cancelled the operation again, so they don’t face judicial accountability, as they will be releasing me. I asked for release to the West Bank, because there are medical teams, in the Istishari Hospital in the West Bank. But for ‘security reasons’, the last court session was on the 8th of June. Which is three days before my release. The response was that I could get medical attention inside the 1948 occupied territories, at the time the IPS got me a new appointment with the hospital for the operation, on the 9th of July. A month after my release. You can tell me now that there are international laws, and international organizations overseeing such practices, and the 3rd and 4th Geneva Conventions.”

Director of Addameer Prisoner Support Association

“We can say that the medical negligence policy, is systematic, and it begins from the first moment of arrest, until the end of the sentence, and the release of the prisoner.”

“If a person is detained while wounded, injured or has been assaulted during the arrest, and he is undergoing an interrogation, usually, the medical condition of the detainee, such as a wound or injury, are used to put pressure on the prisoner, by telling him that medical treatment will be provided in exchange for a confession.”

“The living conditions inside Israeli prisons have an effect on the prisoner’s health. Isolation, lack of sun exposure, and proper ventilation.”

“Doctors inside interrogation centres are also complicit in this. In every interrogation centre there is a clinic where there are doctors and nurses. During the interrogation phase, doctors play a role in the torture process, because the doctor conducts daily check-ups to ensure that the prisoner can still tolerate more torture. And then submit a report to the intelligence in which they give them the green light to carry on the interrogation, as the prisoner’s health is good.”

“Unfortunately, these clinics are not equipped with all medical equipment, and even the medical staff are nurses and if there are doctors, there are usually general doctors and not specialists.”

“All the prisoners’complaints about pain are usually met with providing Paracetamol in its various types. This is also part of the procrastination process, through relieving the pain with painkillers and sedatives, without carrying out the necessary check-ups to determine what the disease actually is, and make a decision whether the prisoner should be transferred to a hospital or see a specialized doctor outside the prison service’s administration.”

“If you have certain symptoms that require tests, they take a long time until they do them. Even if the tests are done, sometimes they delay providing treatment, which deteriorates the prisoner’s health status. When the health conditions become serious, they might quickly transfer the prisoners to hospitals outside the Israeli Prison Services (IPS) administration.”

“ The problem is that the doctors who work for the prison service are not under the Israeli Ministry of Health, but they are employees for the prison administration and therefore, their loyalty is for the prison administration, not to the medical standards in accordance with regulations applied worldwide, in democratic countries.”

“Which is the most applicable to Palestinian prisoners, because most of the Palestinian prisoners are civilians and not combatants, but also whoever is identified as a war prisoner, has the right to medical care. The Israeli occupation is a signatory to all human rights conventions, such as the prevention of torture and the International covenant on civil and political rights, that also guarantee the healthcare that the state must provide to its citizens. Therefore, the occupying state is bound by International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Human Rights Law to provide the necessary medical care for Palestinian prisoners. But unfortunately, the occupation state does not respect these standards and does not respect its obligations under international law. Therefore, the occupation is not held accountable for any of its violations, and this is what motivates it to continue with such policies and not abide by international law.”

“In 2019, there were 3 cases of prisoners who were martyred (died) in Israeli prisons because of such policies. The prisoners were suffering from serious diseases, some of them had cancer in its advanced stages, which were sadly diagnosed after it was too late, after many complaints about pain from the prisoners. As I mentioned, not having regular check-ups leads to a serious case being discovered after it’s too late and no treatment can change things at this point. These prisoners were not released, despite the occupation knowing that they were in their final weeks, and will not survive. They were martyred inside the prison. The bodies are still being held by the Prison Authority.

Wife of Detained Palestinian

“When Samer was arrested, I was dropping him off at his workplace in Ramallah, when suddenly an armed group of undercover Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) member attacked us, and started beating and frisking him.”

“When Samer was arrested, he was taken to Ofer prison, where special rooms were prepared for military interrogation. And the interrogators were taking turns in torturing him. From what we know, two hours after his arrest, Samer was in al Moskabiyya interrogation centre. After 2 days the Shabak (Israeli security agency) announced that Samer and a group of men are linked to a military cell that killed an Israeli girl, and accused Samer of being the leader of the cell, and that he is in critical condition in Hadassah Hospital.”

“We immediately went to the hospital, which was full of police and intelligence members who stopped us from getting to the ICU room where Samer was, as they knew we were his family. They made sure that we ddid not get any information about his medical condition at all. We kept waiting, the allowed the lawyer to see him for only 2 minutes. The lawyer saw him, same was in a very critical condition.
His ribs were broken, his heart stopped, he suffered from muscle atrophy that led to kidney failure. He had 11 broken ribs from his ribcage, and he was unconscious and in a coma.”

“Samer was in the hospital for two months for treatment, then he was transferred to Al-Ramleh prison, but it is nothing like a hospital except for the few nurses working there.”

“Later they allowed me to see him at Al-Ramleh prison for a few minutes. I was shocked when I saw him. My husband was 65 kg and became 45 kg. He was gaunt, in a wheelchair, and on a respirator. He could not speak because of his broken ribs. His feet were black with gangrene. His hair was long and thick, and his beard was bushy. I felt like he was another man, not my husband who I know.”

“When Samer was at At-ramleh prison, they were supposed to give him physiotherapy treatment for his feet because of all the torture and beating he endured. They didn’t give him any treatment, he was in Al-Ramleh hospital, but he wasn’t offered any medical treatment. Even food wise, he was very thin and the doctors advised to increase the quantity of his daily meals. The food was non-nutritious, and served in small portions.”

“We were denied visits for the past three months, because of the coronavirus. They once denied him visits because he did the victory sign in court, so they denied him visits for one month.”

“Samer is currently in Nafha Prison. He’s to getting any medical attention there, even though he still has hearing problems, and his feet and chest are still in bad condition due to the torture he endured. It was a murder attempt. They tried to kill him. About two weeks after he entered a coma state, a police member opened a tear gas canister in the room, they claim that it was an accident. But how can a tear gas canister accidentally open inside a hospital room?”

“I will not give up on the torture file, I will seek all the international concerned authorities, until I get justice for my husband.”

Director of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel

“What is very common is hearing people complain that during their interrogation, they’re subjected to different kinds of abuse, including nonphysical-torture. And by non-physical torture we include sleep deprivation, which is extraordinarily physical in its effects on the body. When I say non-physical methods, I am also including in this the use of threats. People are threatened, ‘You will come out of this interrogation room in a wheelchair, you will come out of this paraplegic,’ or ‘We will arrest you mother.’”

“When detainee is tied up for varying lengths of time, that place a great deal of tension on the nerves and on the muscles. So for instance someone is tied with their hands behind their back, that sounds minor but over a sustained period of time that creates very real damage. Israel dose not have a law in the criminal code criminalizing torture, which is an embarrassment. But, Israel has been a signatory of the convention against torture since the 1980’s, and the convention against torture of course, describes the absolute prohibition against torture and ill-treatment. Israel has accepted that, unfortunately there is still a loophole in the Israeli legal system, and that loophole is what’s known as, the so-called, ‘necessity defense’ which is sometimes referred to as, ’ticking time bomb scenario’ of which Samer Arbeed is part of. These are interrogations that absolutely include very obvious physical violence and abuse against the detainee. “

“Samer Arbeid is really at the extreme end, but it is important for me to emphasize that in other ways his case is not unusual, it is part of a spectrum.”

“This is a situation where the health professionals, are not following the very clear, ethical health guidelines. Because they see themselves as part of the prison administration.”

“For the past 19 years, both the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and other organizations, and other lawyers have filed over 1300 complaints, not a single one of those complaints has led to charges being filed. Whether Samer Arbeed’s complaint will be the first one to lead to such charges, I don’t know. But somebody one day will be the first person who will have his say in the court.”

Daughter of Deceased Prisoner

“My father was taken to prison in 1995, he spent 20 years in prison. In the beginning of 2013, he began suffering from pain in one of his molars. So he headed to the clinic Al-Ramleh prison, to receive treatment. They injected him with an anesthetic, they claim that its an anesthetic injection. The effect of this injection steady for 3 days, its side-effects included swelling of the head and body. After a period of time, his ability to speak weakened. It’s worth noting that we weren’t allowed to visit him. When we went to visit him after two months, to our surprise, we noticed these side effects on him. We could see that his face was swollen, and that he was sick.”

“The clinic in Al-Ramleh prison refused to give him any medication except for Acamol. I would like to note that this Acamol tablet is given to all the prisoners, regardless of what the illness is.”

“We camped in protest for seven months. Seven months and the prison authorities were medically neglecting my father. They refused him any medical attention, or any visit from an external doctor, to treat my father.”

“After a great deal of suffering, and calls for help, my father was released from Israeli prison, unable to walk. Barely able to move. His ability to speak was poor. He would have to say the word multiple times just for you to understand what he is saying. When he first left prison, he went to Al-Ahli hospital in Hebron. He went to Jordan for treatment, yet there was no success. He went to Germany also for treatment, and sadly, there was no success there either.”

“A few months later, he was completely unable to move, he was only able to move his eyes. He was like a dead body on the bed. Until he passed away in 2016. I would like to note here, that my father had no pre-existing conditions, he had an athletic body, his health was better than ours, despite him being in prison. He had a black belt. So it doesn’t make sense how he can get this sickness.”

(Source / 09.08.2020)

Palestinian Ministry of Health: Six deaths, 426 new corona cases in Palestine

Six Palestinians have died of coronavirus cases were recorded in Palestine in the last 24 hours, today said Minister of Health Mai Alkaila.

Out of the six fatalities 4 in occupied East Jerusalem and 2 in Hebron district in the south of the West Bank. And out of 426 new casses, 220 in occupied Jerusalem.

Alkaila said in the daily coronavirus briefing that 496 patients have also recovered. She expressed concern that the cases have been on the rise in East Jerusalem.

Read More: Two corona deaths, 333 new cases and 769 recoveries in Palestine in last 24 hours

(Source / 08.08.2020)

Palestine records new coronavirus death in West Bank

The Palestinian Ministry of Health recorded a new coronavirus death this morning in the West Bank, raising total deaths in Palestine since March to 98.

The Health Ministry said the new death was for a 64-year-old woman from Fowwar refugee camp, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

According to the ministy, the woman who died from the disease was diabetic and suffering from high blood pressure.

Read More: Palestine records a new death from coronavirus, death toll 91

(Source / 08.08.2020)

International mechanism for coordinating patients’ travel out of Gaza still unimplemented

Despite the United Nations announcement that an alternate mechanism for coordinating exit permits for patients requiring medical treatment outside Gaza would be put into place in July, such a mechanism has yet to become operational and hundreds of Palestinians patients in the Gaza Strip still cannot leave Gaza for treatment, as documented the newly released report by Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI), which assists Gaza patients who need to obtain treatment outside the Gaza Strip.

PHRI – which has become the main body helping with Gaza patients’ permit applications since the Palestinian Authority (PA)-Israel coordination mechanism collapsed – reports a five-fold increase in the number of applications it has been handling. In its new paper, PHRI describes the increasingly restrictive policy Israel has implemented vis-à-vis issuing medical exit permits to Gaza residents.

The situation described by PHRI comes on the heels of the statement by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) of July 21 which announced the establishment of a temporary coordination mechanism by the end of July. This mechanism was supposed to function in place of the PA-Israel coordination mechanism which has been suspended ever since the PA decided to freeze all security and civil coordination with Israel due to the unilateral annexation measures being promoted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration.

Read More: Palestinian babies denied by Israel the right to travel with their mothers

Under the new mechanism, the United Nations – through the World Health Organization (WHO) – was to mediate between the Palestinian Civilian Affairs Committee, which is responsible for filing permit applications on behalf of the PA, and the Israeli authorities at Erez Crossing. However, despite the UN’s statement and its efforts to launch the temporary coordination mechanism, due to unknown reasons the mechanism has yet to begin operations.

Against the backdrop of the delay in establishing the alternate coordination mechanism, a new paper published by PHRI provides the latest status report on the obstacles to medical treatment facing Gaza patients. PHRI’s analysis is supported with examples that demonstrate how the usual restrictions of the Israeli permit system have been compounded in the last couple of months with the addition of further obstacles placed by Israel and the difficulties that have resulted from the suspension of civil coordination.

Read More: Fawzi Barhoum: ‘Israel does not care about international law’

The Main Findings:

Applications can be made only for patients classified as urgent: Since the COVID-19 crisis began, Israel has been permitting applications only for urgent, lifesaving treatment, such as in the case of cancer and cardiac patients, infants and young children, and back-to-back ambulance transport. Patients in need of non-emergency medical care are denied even the option of applying for a permit on the grounds that they do not meet the criteria for medical exit permits.

Half of the applications are not approved: Even though Israel currently permits treatment only in urgent cases, only half of the applications submitted via PHRI in June and July received approval. In most of these cases, Israeli authorities did not provide an answer in time so that patients missed their scheduled appointments and were forced to re-apply. The paper also documents the deaths of three Gaza patients – two infants and a 22-year-old man – who were referred for urgent, lifesaving treatment outside Gaza but did not obtain it due to difficulties in coordination and delays in response to medical exit permit applications.

Delays at Erez Crossing: In some cases, even though their permit request had been approved, patients who arrived at Erez Crossing were detained there for a long time before being allowed through the crossing, while others were even sent home. The paper also reports the case of a patient with leukemia who was detained at Erez Crossing for four hours and was questioned by the ISA (Israel Security Agency) as he lay in an ambulance – in contravention of medical ethics – before being allowed to leave Gaza to receive his medical treatment.

Problems communication between Erez Crossing and patients: In late June the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) launched an online form to enable organizations, hospitals and lawyers to file applications for permits on behalf of patients. After PHRI interceded, COGAT also granted Gaza residents permission to apply independently and directly to COGAT at Erez Crossing. However, to date, COGAT has not informed the public in the Gaza Strip of the option of unmediated online applications. In addition, it is unclear if and how many such applications have actually been made via this form, nor is there an automated confirmation when filing is completed or an option for tracking the application’s status.

Requiring imaging tests as a prerequisite for approval: Recently Israeli authorities have instituted the stipulation that applications would not be reviewed unless patients provide the results of medical tests they have undergone, such as MRI, X-rays and biopsies. This requirement constitutes a further burden on patients and in many cases causes delays in handling the applications.

Bogus claims that treatment is available in the Gaza Strip: In order to obtain medical treatment outside Gaza, patients must prove to the Israeli authorities that the therapy they need is unavailable in the Gaza Strip. Over the past two months, several cases have been documented of oncology patients who were refused permits to leave Gaza on the grounds that the therapy they need is available in Gaza, even though this was not the case.

Providing last-minute answers: In a substantial proportion of applications, a decision is only given at the very last minute, sometimes as late as the day that the patient has to leave for treatment. This situation does not give patients the opportunity to properly prepare either for the trip or for the duration of hospitalization or treatment, and imposes additional strain and tension to an already stressful situation.

PHRI stated: “Every day that goes by without the international mechanism in operation takes a toll in human life. Ultimately, since Israel has control over the crossings and decides all matters regarding patients’ travel for treatment, Israel must act to safeguard patients’ lives until a solution is found. In the long run, such a solution necessitates lifting the blockade imposed on Gaza and ensuring free access between the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Until that time Israeli authorities must rescind the stringent criteria it has imposed and also allow patients in non-emergency situations to leave Gaza for treatment. In addition, Israel must revise the online form for applying for permits to leave Gaza for medical treatment so that patients can easily check on the review status of their application. Finally, Israel must ensure that responses to applications are provided in a timely manner that is compatible with the urgency of the medical condition.”

(Source / 08.08.2020)

First Palestinian child detainee in Israel prison infected with coronavirus

Israeli forces brutally arrest a Palestinian teenager, 21 November 2017 [Muammar Awad/Apaimages]
Israeli forces arrest a Palestinian teenager, 21 November 2017 

A Palestinian child prisoner in an Israeli jail has tested positive for coronavirus, according to Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P).

The 15-year-old from Al-Jalazoun Refugee Camp in the West Bank city of Ramallah was detained less than two weeks ago and taken to Shikma Prison in Ashkelon, southern Israel, for interrogation, according to Iyad Misk, an attorney with the rights group.

At least 30 Israeli prison guards and seven Palestinian prisoners have tested positive for Covid-19 so far.

This comes after Israel’s Supreme Court ruled early last month that Palestinian prisoners have no right to social distancing protection against coronavirus.

Israel’s top court rejected a petition made by the Adalah – The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights calling on prison authorities to implement COVID-19 protective guidelines for inmates at Gilboa prison, a facility in northern Israel housing about 450 Palestinians classified by Israel as “security prisoners”.

READ: Palestinian boy found with bullet in brain after Eid celebrations

Israel has consistently failed to provide prisoners with basic precautionary services since the beginning of the pandemic, and even withdrew some food and hygiene products from prison commissaries.

“There is no way Israeli forces can justify the detention of a child currently infected with COVID-19,” Ayed Abu Eqtaish, a programme director with DCI-P, stated.

“By extending this boy’s custodial detention, Israeli authorities are recklessly endangering his health and well-being along with the health of other detainees. Israeli authorities must release all Palestinian child detainees immediately.”

Up to 160 Palestinian children were held in Israeli military detention in June, up to 700 Palestinian children from East Jerusalem were jailed last year.

(Source / 07.08.2020)

First Palestinian child detainee in Israel prison infected with coronavirus

Israeli occupation forces can be seen arresting a Palestinian youth [file photo]
Israeli occupation forces can be seen arresting a Palestinian youth [file photo]

A Palestinian child prisoner in an Israeli jail has tested positive for coronavirus, according to Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P).

The 15-year-old from Al-Jalazoun Refugee Camp in the West Bank city of Ramallah was detained less than two weeks ago and taken to Shikma Prison in Ashkelon, southern Israel, for interrogation, according to Iyad Misk, an attorney with the rights group.

At least 30 Israeli prison guards and seven Palestinian prisoners have tested positive for Covid-19 so far.

Read More: A Palestinian prisoner infected with coronavirus, says IPS

This comes after Israel’s Supreme Court ruled early last month that Palestinian prisoners have no right to social distancing protection against coronavirus.

Israel’s top court rejected a petition made by the Adalah – The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights calling on prison authorities to implement COVID-19 protective guidelines for inmates at Gilboa prison, a facility in northern Israel housing about 450 Palestinians classified by Israel as “security prisoners”.

Read More: Appeal to save life of Palestinian who is infected with COVID-19 inside American jail

Israel has consistently failed to provide prisoners with basic precautionary services since the beginning of the pandemic, and even withdrew some food and hygiene products from prison commissaries.

“There is no way Israeli forces can justify the detention of a child currently infected with COVID-19,” Ayed Abu Eqtaish, a programme director with DCI-P, stated.

“By extending this boy’s custodial detention, Israeli authorities are recklessly endangering his health and well-being along with the health of other detainees. Israeli authorities must release all Palestinian child detainees immediately.”

Up to 160 Palestinian children were held in Israeli military detention in June, up to 700 Palestinian children from East Jerusalem were jailed last year.

(Source / 07.08.2020)

Palestine reports 244 new cases of coronavirus, 527 recoveries

The Ministry of Health announced today that 244 new cases of coronavirus and 527 recoveries were confirmed in Palestine during the past 24 hours.

MoH said in its daily statement on the coronavirus pandemic that 131 of the new cases were in Hebron governorate, 27 in Jerusalem, 14 in Nablus, 14 in Jericho, 10 in Jenin, 42 in Ramallah, two in Qalqilia, and one each in the governorates of Tubas, Tulkarm, and Salfit.

The ministry said 44.9 percent of the total coronavirus patients in Palestine have recovered so far, while the percentage of active cases reached 54.6 percent. Meanwhile, deaths amounted for only 0.5 percent of the overall cases.

Read More: Palestine reports 255 new coronavirus cases, 66 recoveries

With regard to the geographic distribution of the recoveries, MoH said 225 recoveries were reported in Hebron, 220 in Ramallah, 76 in Qalqilia, and six in Jenin.

MoH added that nine of the coronavirus patients are currently under intensified care, of whom two are connected to respirators.

Read More: Palestine reports 356 new coronavirus cases

(Source / 03.08.2020)