The Palestinian Center for Prisoners Studies has confirmed that 16 Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli occupation prisons suffer from cancer of various types.
The Israeli prison service (IPS) does not provide them with adequate treatment for their health condition and gives them only painkillers, which herald a real danger to their lives.
In a report on the occasion of World Cancer Day which is observed every February 4th each year, Riad Al-Ashqar, the director of the center, said that prisoners with cancer in the occupation prisons are at risk of losing their lives. This is due to their difficult health conditions and their lack of proper treatment for their sickness, he said, adding that the IPS provides them with only what keeps them alive so as not to bear responsibility for their death in its prisons.
Ashqar pointed out, however, that cancer is the topmost cause of death of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. Two prisoners, Kamal Abu Waer from Jenin and Saada al-Gharabli from Gaza City, died last year (2020) after suffering from cancer and the occupation refused to release them despite the seriousness of their health conditions.
He said that the prisoners with cancer experience great suffering and they experience difficult conditions and violations at the hands of occupation that deprives them of their basic right of proper treatment.
Ashqar pointed out that the difficult conditions in the occupation prisons contribute to increasing the spread of diseases, including serious ones.
Every now and then, one of the prisoners is discovered to have cancer, the last of whom was Hussein Al-Masalmeh from Bethlehem, he said, adding that Masalmeh had leukemia and his health condition was extremely critical and he has been staying for weeks at the Israeli Soroka Hospital in a coma.
“The prisoner Jamal Ibrahim Amr, 48, who is from al-Khalil and has been detained since 2004, was found to have bowel cancer. The cancer reached the kidneys, liver and lungs and he can barely breathe as a result of deliberate medical negligence and he receives painkillers only, and his health is deteriorating”, Ashqar underlined.
After his health deteriorated rapidly over the past few weeks, prisoner Imad Abdul Khaleq Abu Ramuz, 46, from al-Khalil, underwent a number of tests and it was found that he had a cancerous tumor in his testicles, Ashqar said, adding, “He needed urgent surgery to remove one of the testicles before the cancer spreads to other parts of his body. Moreover, he was infected with an unknown virus in his liver. He has been detained since 2004 and is sentenced to 25 years”.
Ashqar revealed that there are two elderly prisoners who contracted cancer and who are over the age of 70 and they are the oldest prisoners.
He explained that Fouad Hijazi Al-Shobaki, 82, suffers from prostate cancer and was taken to the hospital to receive treatment more than once. “His health condition has been declining recently and the occupation rejected dozens of appeals issued through various parties to end his suffering. He spent 14 years out of his 17 years sentence”.
The prisoner Muwaffaq Nayef Arouq, 78, from Nazareth city in 1948 Occupied Palestine was found to be suffering from cancer in the liver and stomach, Ashqar said. “He was taken to the Israeli Barzilai hospital several times after a noticeable deterioration in his health condition. He has been detained for 18 years and is sentenced to 30 years in prison, and the occupation has refused to release him.”
Ashqar warned of the imminent danger to the lives of the prisoners with cancer due to their difficult health conditions and the lack of proper treatment for their sickness. He added that even those who were released continued to suffer from the disease outside the prison due to the delay in their release. “In many cases, such delays led to the death of the prisoners after their freedom. The last such incident was the ex-prisoner Muhammad Salah al-Din from Jerusalem who died three months after his release. He was diagnosed with cancer in the occupation prisons”.
He called on all institutions concerned with prisoners’ issues and the media to shed light on the suffering of prisoners with cancer. Also, he demanded their unconditional release before they die inside prisons, especially in view of the spread of the corona pandemic in the occupation prisons.
He called on all international institutions, especially the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders, to set up a fact-finding committee to find out the reason for the increasing number of cancer patients among Palestinians in the occupation prison and to work for their release as they are threatened with death at any moment.