Palestinian ill prisoners struggle for justice: cases of Abu Latifa, Raddad and Bitar

mahmoud-abulatifaPalestinian ill prisoners continue to suffer from medical neglect and mistreatment, report Palestinian prisoners and their families.

The Palestine Center for Prisoners Studies reported that Abdullah Mahmoud Abu Latifa, 30, of Bethlehem, has seen a serious decline in his health. He has been imprisoned since 2005 and is sentenced to 15 years in occupation prisons. Abu Latifa has suffered for 3 years with severe head pains and initial examinations have indicated that he has a tumor. He is unaware of the nature or cause of the tumor, and fears that it is cancerous. Abu Latifa does not know what the prison doctors are doing with the results of his tests, he has received no treatment except painkillers, and his health has declined, he has lost weight and he is very tired. Abu Latifa told his lawyer that a prison doctor told him during transport to a hospital for a test that he has cancer, but the prison officials have refused to turn over medical reports to his lawyer, claiming that security reasons prevent them from doing so.

Abu Latifa’s family are calling for urgent attention to his case and are asking to be allowed to send a private doctor into the prisons to examine him, and determine the cause of his illness. They stated that the occupation bears full responsibility for his life and that his health has deteriorated significantly since his imprisonment. The Center said that many prisoners are anxious after revelations of other prisoners’ diagnoses of cancer after years or months of neglect, making their cancer much more difficult or even impossible to treat.

Photo by Joe Catron
Photo by Joe Catron

Moatassem Raddad, 31, will undergo surgery to remove his large intestine inside the prison hospital, after the failure of other treatments. Raddad suffers from colon cancer; he is one of the most severely ill prisoners. Despite the severity of his case, Israeli military courts have denied application for his early release on medical grounds. He thanked all who have stood in solidarity with him in his struggle for adequate medical treatment. He will have another hearing on early release on February 12, after two years of postponements and denials and severely deteriorating health. He is sentenced to 20 years and has served 9 years of his sentence; he is held in Ramle prison hospital awaiting surgery.

Ibrahim Bitar’s family and supporters continue to organize for his release, calling for his freedom to save his life. He has lost nearly 30 kg in weight, is losing his sight due to an untreated injury, and suffers from blood diseases. He is 33, from Khan Younis, and serving a 17-year sentence, of which he has served 10 years. His brother Mamdouh Bitar noted that he is faced with slow death through medical neglect. Dozens of Palestinians joined in a rally on January 20 in Gaza calling for his release.