Saadia Farajallah Matar: Palestinian mother’s life taken by occupation medical neglect

Saadia Farajallah Matar, a 68-year old imprisoned Palestinian woman, died on Saturday, 2 July, the latest martyr of the prisoners’ movement due to the systemic Zionist medical neglect targeting Palestinian prisoners. She passed away of a sudden heart attack as she washed before prayer in the early morning hours in Damon prison, with her fellow women prisoners. She was married, the mother of eight children. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses our deepest condolences and salutes to her family, loved ones and the Palestinian people as a whole.

Saadia Farajallah Matar, from the town of Ithna, west of al-Khalil, is the latest Palestinian prisoner to be subjected to the systematic practice of Israeli medical neglect. There are over 500 ill Palestinians inside the occupation prisons, including a number suffering from severe and chronic illnesses. Rather than receiving proper treatment, they are denied access to independent Palestinian physicians, taken to the infamous Ramleh prison clinic — referred to as a “slaughterhouse” by Palestinian prisoners — and often must rely on their fellow detained Palestinians for help with the daily activities of life. The policy of medical neglect is one of slow execution against the Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian people as a whole.

Seized on 18 December 2021 from outside the Ibrahimi Mosque in al-Khalil by Israeli occupation forces, she was brutally beaten, exacerbating her existing health conditions. Last Tuesday, 26 June, she was brought before an occupation military court in a wheelchair. In the court hearing, her lawyers demanded access to a specialized doctor, as she was already suffering from diabetes complications, high blood pressure and poor overall health. Instead of being given the medical care she obviously needed, the military court ordered her sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment and a fine of 15,000 NIS (approximately $3,700 USD) — an almost certain death sentence without receiving proper healthcare.

She was among 30 Palestinian women jailed in Damon prison, out of over 4,700 Palestinian political prisoners inside the occupation prisons. She had previously been jailed for three months under administrative detention, arbitrary imprisonment without charge or trial. Today, there are over 600 administrative detainees, who have been engaged in a collective boycott of the occupation military courts since January 2022.

Her sentence — imposed upon her for allegedly attempting to stab a 38-year-old armed settler from the illegal colony of “Kiryat Arba” outside the Ibrahimi Mosque, after she was assaulted by settlers — was never finalized before her martyrdom. She is the 230th Palestinian since 1967 to become a martyr of the prisoners’ movement, many of those due to the systematic policy of medical neglect, negligence, abuse and mistreatment imposed upon Palestinian prisoners.

The Palestinian prisoners’ movement responded to the news of the martyrdom of Saadia Farajallah Matar by banging on the walls and shouting for justice and liberation. In a statement, the prisoner’ movement affirmed that all prisoners are closing their sections and returning their meals in honour and mourning for her. The prisoners’ movement noted the full responsibility of the occupation for this crime and called upon the Palestinian resistance to continue their pursuit of an exchange for the liberation of all prisoners.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network underlines the full responsibility of the occupation and its backers, including the U.S., Canada, the British government and European governments, for these ongoing and systematic crimes against the Palestinian people and the Palestinian prisoners, including the policy of slow killing and medical neglect that today took the life of Saadia Farajallah Matar. Her life and sacrifice must inspire us all to rededicate our efforts to obtain liberation for all Palestinian prisoners and for all of Palestine, from the river to the sea.