Palestinian Hunger-Strikers Sneaking Food, Says Hospital Official in Letter to Israeli Supreme Court
The deputy director of Assaf HaRofeh Medical Center near Tel Aviv suspects that Palestinian prisoners on a hunger-strike under his watch are actually sneaking sustenance, the Hebrew news site nrg reported on Sunday.
According to the report, based on an item broadcast by Israel’s Channel 2, the hospital official expressed his suspicions in a letter he sent to the Supreme Court, after 19-year-old Anas Shadid and 29-year-old Ahmed Mohammed Hussein Abu Fara – who have been on a hunger strike since September, when their petition for release was rejected by the court — announced this week that they would now stop drinking water, as well.
As left-wing NGOs continue to put pressure on the public to call for the two to be released on medical grounds, the Assaf HaRofeh hospital official wrote that he has evidence to suggest that they were secretly breaking their fast. “There I am scratching my head about how a 19-year-old boy, thin as a matchstick, is not yet dead…until I find a bag of sugar water on top of his cupboard.”
Another “weird incident” the hospital official recounted in his letter involved a bag next to the bed of the other patient. “This morning, he was making sounds as though he was about to die,” he wrote. “[So] I tried to move his bag out of the way, when suddenly, he sat up, grabbed the bag and hugged it tightly, asking that we not touch it.”
The two hunger-strikers, from villages in the Hebron area, were arrested in August on suspicion of incitement and hostile activities against Israel. About a month later, they went on a hunger strike. As a result of their deteriorating health, they were transferred to Assaf HaRofeh, where they refused all medical treatment and physical examinations.
The Supreme Court rejected another appeal for their release in November, determining that they could not even be transferred to a hospital in Ramallah, in the Palestinian Authority. The judges ruled that from the material obtained in their investigation, the two posed a threat and must remain in Israeli custody. The only condition under which they could be released, the judges said, would be if their health were to deteriorate to the point at which they no longer constituted a danger.
Since the beginning of their hunger strike in September, they have been visited by members of the NGO Physicians for Human Rights, who have decried their physical deterioration and tried to enlist public opinion to pressure the authorities for their release.
The Hebrew news site Walla reported last week that the two were visited by Physicians for Human Rights member Dr. Rafik Masalha, a neurologist from Beersheba, who announced that Abu-Fara had lost 22 kilos (more than 48 pounds). “He looks very skinny, lying on his back, barely moving his limbs; he looks exhausted and has difficulty performing simple tasks.” He added that the young man’s comprehension is slow, his vision impaired and muscles atrophying. Such a dramatic weight loss, the doctor said, “is considered life-threatening.”
The condition of the second young man is even worse, Dr. Masalha said.
The Assaf HaRofeh deputy director, however, painted a different picture. A spokesman from the medical center said that doctor-patient privilege prevents it from releasing information to the public on the condition of the two young men.
As nrg reported, there have been three Palestinian hunger-strikers freed during the last few years, as a result of their life-threatening conditions and in response to public pressure. They were Muhammad al-Kik, Muhammad Allan and Khadar Adnan, the last two of whom are operatives for the terrorist organization Islamic Jihad.