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PCHR Calls for Investigation into Death of Palestinian Prisoner Husain ‘Atallah in Israeli Prisons

 Ref: 11/2018

On 20 January 2018, Palestinian prisoner in the Israeli jails, Husain ‘Atallah (57) from Nablus, who suffered cancer, died in Assaf  Harofeh Medical Center in Israel in circumstances that raise suspicion of deliberate medical negligence in the Israeli prisons. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) calls for immediate and impartial investigation in the death circumstances of ‘Atallah. PCHR is deeply concerned that the Israeli authorities may have delayed offering ‘Atallah timely and adequate medical treatment for his condition. PCHR further condemns Israel’s ignorance of repeated calls to release ‘Atallah though knowing that he had cancer spread all over his body.

‘Atallah was sentenced with 32 years in prison and spent 21 years of them in the Israeli prisons. While in prison, ‘Atallah was diagnosed with cancer in 5 parts of his body, in the lungs, spine, liver, and head. Despite the rapid deterioration of his health condition in his last days, the Israeli authorities refused the repeated calls to release him as a humanitarian case. Issa Qaraqe’a, Head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, stated to the media that the Israeli Early Release Committee of the Prison Service refused a request submitted by the Committee’s lawyer to release ‘Atallah in last September. According to that, the lawyer filed three appeals regarding the decision, but the appeals were rejected by the Israeli court. The court was supposed to consider a fourth appeal, which was submitted by the Committee’s lawyer on 22 January 2018. However, ‘Atallah died 2 days before the date in Assaf Harofeh Medical Center.

‘Atallah’s death highlights the deterioration of detention conditions of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, including repressive measures against them, medical negligence they are subject to and the failure to provide necessary medical treatment to hundreds of patients, especially those who suffer from serious diseases.

PCHR holds the Israeli Government fully responsible for ‘Atallah’s death and the  lives of dozens of ill prisoners, who would the same fate if the policy of deliberate medical negligence continued due to detaining them in inhumane and cruel conditions subjecting them to physical and mental torture in addition to not receiving any adequate healthcare in time. Thus, PCHR:

  1. Calls for an immediate and impartial investigation into ‘Atallah’s death;
  2. Calls upon the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to increase its activities in monitoring the conditions of Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli prisons  and their detention circumstances;
  1. Calls upon the international community to compel Israel to respect international law and humanitarian law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention and the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners; and
  2. Highlights the continued deterioration of the living conditions of more than 6500 Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli prisons, including dozens suffering chronic diseases and not receive the adequate healthcare.