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Human Rights Centre: Israel brutally humiliating hospitalised prisoners on hunger strike

The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Adalah and Physicians for Human Rights have sent an urgent message to the Israeli Ministry of Health and hospital managers demanding they immediately stop handcuffing prisoners on hunger strike who are transferred to their hospitals.

The centre said, in a statement on Thursday, that hospitalised prisoners are shackled to bed by their hands and feet 24 hours a day. The prisoners are prevented from movement at all times which further complicates their already deteriorating health.

More than eighty Palestinian administrative prisoners who have been on hunger strike for over 50 days were transferred to Israeli hospitals.

Adalah and Physicians for Human Rights demanded that all dangerous restrictions imposed on prisoners including their most basic humanitarian needs such as using a toilet, especially at night, be stopped. Hospital and prison staff claim they do not have enough wardens to accompany prisoners to the toilet in at night.

The hunger strikers are only consuming water increasing their need to use the toilet more urgently. After visiting the prisoners on hunger strike, Adalah said that a majority of prisoners preferred to stay in jail instead of going to the hospital.

Adalah attorney Sawsan Zaher said in a statement that “prisoners on hunger strike are handcuffed and their movement is restricted, especially their access to toilets which represent a humiliating torture that would deteriorate their health”. The statement added that “the prisoners’ physical condition does not allow them to move naturally, therefore, the restraint is used, in fact, as a means of revenge against them as part of the Israeli attempt to break their strike.”

The statement emphasised that “medical treatment” in such circumstances contrasts radically with the medical ethical obligations of hospitals and doctors and most importantly with their commitment to the dignity and rights of the patient, according to the laws and rights of the patient and according to the rules of medical ethics developed by the World Medical Association.

“All these commitments prevent workers in medical institutions from committing any punitive, brutal or humiliating practices against patients, which are in fact committed by Israel against the prisoners. These practices fall unequivocally within the frame of “illegal torture” and in total contradiction with the terms of the World Convention against torture” the statement said.

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