Urgent: Palestinian prisoner Fares Baroud dies in Israeli prison; prisoners highlight medical neglect

Palestinian prisoner Fares Baroud, 51, from al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza, died on Wednesday, 6 February only hours after being suddenly transferred to intensive care from Ramon prison. Baroud suffers from a number of health conditions, including a hernia and liver disease, and has repeatedly spoken about medical neglect and denial of needed health treatment to Palestinian prisoners.

Earlier, he had lost 80 percent of his sight due to a vision problem; treatment was delayed for four months by the prison administration for his condition. Palestinian prisoners’ associations said that Baroud has been subjected to deliberate medical neglect over the years and that he has been denied necessary medical care that could have sustained his life.

Baroud had been denied family visits for 18 years by the Israeli occupation, including with his mother, Rayya Baroud. Rayya suffered from the same vision condition, losing her sight and her life before seeing her son again. Before her death in 2018 at the age of 85 , she participated every week in the vigils of prisoners’ families outside the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza City, holding her son’s poster and demanding his release and that of his fellow prisoners.

Fares Baroud’s mother Rayya. Photo: Palestine Information Center

Imprisoned since 1991, Baroud was one of the prisoners slated to be released in 2013 as part of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Instead, the occupation violated the agreement, refusing to release the final 30 prisoners named, including Baroud.

He participated in numerous hunger strikes and protests during his years in Israeli prison. Most recently, he held an open hunger strike in 2018 against the Palestinian Authority’s cuts to prisoners’ support, particularly those against prisoners from Gaza. After his strike, he suffered severe liver disease, but did not receive prompt medical care. Months later, he required surgery on his liver.

Baroud was held in Ramon prison and had been transferred to multiple prisons over the years. He was repeatedly held in isolation through his 27 years of imprisonment.

Following Baroud’s death, there are reports of widespread anger and rising protest from Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. A closure and lockdown has been imposed at Ramon and Nafha prisons. Baroud is the 218th Palestinian prisoner to die in Israeli jails, many due to medical neglect, mistreatment or denial of necessary healthcare.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network mourns the loss of Fares Baroud, his life taken away by 28 years of imprisonment and isolation – including 18 painful years of collective punishment for him and his loved ones, denied family visits until the moment of his death. We note that this loss is part of the ongoing and systematic medical neglect and abuse taking place inside Israeli prisons – as we see in recent days with the renewal of administrative detention orders against severely ill Palestinian prisoners Walid Khaled Sharaf and Moataz Obaido, imprisoned without charge or trial while their lives are at risk. We urge all supporters of justice in Palestine to continue to organize to demand freedom and justice for nearly 6,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails – and freedom and justice for Palestine.