Prisoner dies at Israeli hospital after denied treatment

PNN/ Bethlehem/

The Palestinian Prisoners and Ex-Prisoner Affairs Committee on Tuesday morning announced that prisoner Sami Abu Diak (37) died at an Israeli hospital after he was systematically denied specialized medical care, leading to serious complications that resulted in his death.

The Committee stated that Abu Diak was only moved to Assaf Harofeh Israeli Medical Center after his health deteriorated when lawyers filed several appeals with Israeli courts, asking to allow his release to receive specialized medical treatment in Palestine, or abroad, but its requested were all denied.

“Sami was subjected to a deliberate policy denying him the right to adequate medical care,” the committee said, “Despite the serious decline in his health, and the constant complications, he was not provided with the urgently needed specialized care, and was only moved to a hospital when he neared death.”

Abu Diak, from Sielet ath-Thaher town, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, was serving three life terms and an additional 30 years in prison.

He was taken prisoner on July 17, 2002, and was first diagnosed with intestinal cancer in August of 2015, and underwent surgery, after the prison authority moved him to Soroka Medical Center, but due to a misdiagnosis and a medical error, he faced serious complications, and some of his intestines were removed.

Abu Diak underwent various surgeries, and suffered further complications, including pulmonary and renal failures, in addition to cancer and skin poisoning, and his condition continued to deteriorate since then.

Before his death, Abu Diak’s final message was:

To those with a living conscious…
I am living my final hours and days, there is nothing I would like more than spending them near my mother; between my loved ones, I would love to utter my last breath in my mother’s arms; I do not wish to die cuffed and shackled,
I do not want to die in front of a jailor who loves death, and feeds on our pain and suffering,
Will my words even reach the ears and minds of leaders?!
I am telling, if I die far away from my mother, I will never forgive you…
Prisoner Sami Abu Diak

Senior PLO member, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi in a statement said Israel must be held accountable for its systematic crimes against Palestinian prisoners 

“Sami is the newest victim of Israel’s reprehensible policy of medical negligence against Palestinian prisoners, who also endure other forms of grave violations of human rights and war crimes at the hands of their Israeli captors, including torture. With his tragic death, Sami becomes the 222nd Palestinian prisoner to die in Israeli prisons.”

Ashrawi said that Israel’s notorious and well-documented mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners, including minors, is morally, legally, and politically bankrupt. It fails to meet any of its obligations under international law and it flaunts its defiance of the UN-set minimum standards required for treating prisoners with abject disregard for Palestinians’ humanity.

“The international community’s failure to hold Israel accountable for these crimes is equally inexcusable,” she said.

“Even by the standards of Israel’s innately unjust and racist military court system, Sami was entitled to humanitarian release so that he may spend his last days with loved ones. Yet, Israel repeatedly, wilfully and inhumanely denied him this most basic of rights, reaffirming once again that its policy of mass incarceration of Palestinians and sham courts are designed to exact vengeance and collective punishment against an entire people,” she added.

Sami’s death is a tragic reminder of the indignities nearly a million Palestinians have endured in Israeli prisons and detention centers since the beginning of the occupation in 1967. It must compel relevant international human rights bodies to assume their responsibilities and confront this system of mass oppression and dehumanization against Palestinians. Israel must be investigated and held accountable.