|The News Line: Feature
Wednesday, 6 September 2017
ISRAEL ‘GUILTY OF MULTI-DIMENSIONAL CRIMES'
THE PALESTINIAN resistance movement of Hamas has denounced the Israeli shooting of a Palestinian, Raed al-Salihi, who died later in detention as a ‘new multi-dimensional crime.’
First, the Israelis shot the young man, then there were accusations of ‘medical negligence’ – not providing the dying Palestinian with adequate medical care to keep him alive. Then his family were denied visits to see him in his last days.
And finally his dead body is now been withheld, stopping his family from being able to bury their loved one and grieve properly. It was during a predawn military raid on August 9, when Israeli forces shot him several times in his chest at close range, puncturing his liver and causing severe damage to his internal organs.
Al-Salihi was being held in the intensive care unit but died of his wounds on Sunday. Head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe said in a statement on Monday that al-Salihi’s body was transferred from the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem to the Rishon Lezion hospital in central Israel after he was pronounced dead on Sunday.
The Israeli authorities routinely detain the bodies of slain Palestinians for extended periods and impose strict restrictions on their funerals. In other words they incarcerate the dead bodies of Palestinians that they kill. Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said in a statement on Monday that the incident is a further evidence of the Israeli regime’s ‘insistence on violating all humanitarian norms,’ which requires ‘holding it accountable.’
Qassem stressed that Israeli crimes against the Palestinian detainees ‘would not break their will, neither weaken their resolve and steadfastness.’ For the movement, he said, the freedom of the detainees is a top priority. More than 7,000 Palestinians are reportedly held in Israeli jails.
Hundreds have been incarcerated under the practice of administrative detention, under which Palestinian inmates are kept in Israeli jails without trial or charge. Some Palestinian prisoners have been held in administrative detention for up to 11 years. About 1,200 detainees in Israeli jails suffer from poor health conditions as a result of medical negligence.
The occupied Palestinian territories have witnessed heightened tensions ever since Israel imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshippers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem al-Quds in August 2015. Meanwhile, spokesperson for the Palestinian Prisoners Centre for Studies, Riyad al-Ashqar, said in a statement that Israeli authorities shot al-Salihi ‘without justification and with the intention of killing him.’
Al-Ashqar also accused Israel of ‘medical negligence and not providing the young Palestinian with proper medical care.’ Palestinian prisoners’ solidarity network Samidoun reported that during the weeks following his detention, al-Salihi, held in the intensive care unit in a coma, was denied family visits and heavy guarded despite his unconsciousness and severe medical condition.
‘All of the family’s attempts to obtain a permit to visit have failed. The occupation authorities are preventing all members of his family from visiting him to check on his health. The last attempt was several weeks ago by his mother, who suffers from several diseases herself and cannot sleep due to her worry,’ Khaled al-Salihi, Raed’s brother said.
Meanwhile, al-Salihi’s brother Bassam al-Salihi was detained during a raid into al-Duheisha refugee camp on August 16. The leftist faction the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) issued a statement on Sunday, saying that ‘Palestine, Duheisha camp, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine have lost a courageous struggler committed to liberation of the Palestinian people from Zionist occupation. ‘This young man was committed in his veins with loyalty to the Palestinian cause and his people.’
Al-Salihi was the 55th Palestinian to be killed by an Israeli since the beginning of 2017. Meanwhile the only hospital for the treatment of returning Palestinian refugees is under threat of closure. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees in the Near East is believed to be gradually shutting down Qalqilia Hospital, regarded locally as the only symbol of the Palestinian right of return.
UNRWA has already stopped admitting new patients for ear, nose and throat treatment and childbirth, with cases being redirected to an UNRWA-contracted hospital. UNRWA’s suspicious, serious and systematic policy in Qalqilia Hospital will succeed only over our dead bodies,’ said Naser Abu Kishk, vice-chairman of the UNRWA area Arab staff union.
He says the hospital closure would represent a huge blow to Palestinian refugees worldwide. The relief agency’s suspension or reduction of hospital services meant it was relinquishing its responsibilities in the Occupied West Bank, he said, and turning its back on the Palestine central cause (the right of return).
‘UNRWA is the only witness to the cause of the Palestinian refugees and must be there as long as refugees are there, to provide them with essential services,’ he added. He also claimed that UNRWA was also planning to shut down educational higher institutes in Ramallah.
‘This is a systematic political plan to end the right of return after they failed to stop it up by force,’ he said. He said that if the agency’s cutback in operations and services was successful in the Occupied West Bank, the tactic would be applied to other countries such as Syria and Lebanon.
The 63-bed Qalqilia Hospital serves more than 360,000 Palestinian refugees in the Occupied West Bank. Palestinian holders of UNRWA cards (as refugees) are entitled to educational and medical services. Qalqilia Hospital is not a free facility: refugees pay 10 shekels (Dh10) for a diagnosis and 27 shekels (Dh27) per night if admitted.
• A 47-year-old resident of Gaza, Etimad Rabee, died while waiting for a permit to access the Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem, where she was to receive treatment for colon cancer. Etimad Rabee’s death comes in the context of Israel’s systematic and increasing denial and delay in granting permits for patients seeking urgent medical care outside of the Gaza Strip.
Al Mezan’s legal unit had intervened in the permit request process to support Rabee’s application for the necessary medical transfer. Etimad Rabee had submitted an initial permit on 2 April 2017. On 17 May 2017, her request was approved with the condition that she would select a different person to accompany her to the hospital. She submitted further requests on April 2, May 17 and June 29, to the three of which Israeli approval was granted with the same condition.
Rabee never received a response to her requests for travel on July 4 and 24, and the approval came only on 8 August 2017, but cited the same conditions—a change of the person who would accompany her. While awaiting the travel companion approval from the Israeli authorities, Etimad Rabee’s health deteriorated, and she was referred to the Gaza European hospital.
At that point, her health had deteriorated to the extent that transport by ambulance was not feasible. Etimad Rabee died at 4 pm on August 8 2017, shortly after receiving approval of her permit request. As in numerous previous cases, the Israeli authorities approved the permit for the patient, however, citing vague security reasons, did not issue the companion permit. Patients and/or companions whose permit requests are rejected are sometimes issued permits after intervention by Al Mezan and other Palestinian and Israeli human rights organisations.
The systematic restrictions on the movement of Gaza’s patients are part of Israel’s closure policy, which places a blanket prohibition on movement for all residents, with a few exceptions.
The unlawful closure policy harms various vulnerable groups, with patients particularly affected as they are denied access to adequate medical care for health conditions that Gaza’s crippled healthcare system cannot address.
Al Mezan calls on the Israeli authorities to immediately and unconditionally stop denying Palestinians access to healthcare that is necessary to save their life and/or improve the quality of life.
The closure policy constitutes a serious violation of patients’ rights and reflects the occupying power’s unwillingness to fulfil its obligations towards protected persons under its effective control. Al Mezan also condemns Israel’s restrictions on access to healthcare for Gaza’s patients by hampering the flow of medical equipment and goods.
The closure policy, which restricts imports of materials that are essential for public health, including water and sanitation, must stop so that the Palestinian authorities and international community can improve health conditions in the besieged Gaza Strip.
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