Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Conditions in Israeli prisons

Condition of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails

12 April 2013 13:21 (Last updated 12 April 2013 13:23)
Condition of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails worse than people think, said former prisoner

GAZA (AA) - Ekrem Sellame, a former Palestinian prisoner who was in an Israeli jail and was freed after a prisoner swap agreement between Israel and Hamas, said on Friday that the condition of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails were worse than people thought.

Having spent 22 years in the Israeli Ramle Prison, 40-year-old Sellame spoke to the Anadolu Agency (AA) in an exclusive interview and provided information on the time he spent in prison and the conditions there.

Describing the Ramle Prison as "Israel's worst", Sellame underlined that the hospital attached to the Ramle Prison was a "slaughter house".

"Ramle was not a hospital. It was a slaughter house," Sellame said.

"The hospital was dirty and its windows were covered with wires or large iron boards. Neither air nor sun light could enter the hospital. There were insects everywhere in the hospital. Whatever was harmful for patients, it was there in the hospital," Sellame stated.

"I was responsible for my friends in prison as I had worked as a nurse prior to getting arrested. I took care of the patients and helped prisoners get sent to the hospital," Sellame noted.

"You had to go through 26 electronic doors before you could reach the main gate of the prison. The doors were designed with a sensitive system. Two doors did not open concurrently," Sellame stressed.

-Solitary confinement for cancer patients-

"When hospitals choose doctors, they pay attention to the achievements and proficiency of doctors. The doctors chosen for the Ramle hospital were not successful in their careers," Sellame argued.

"Hospitals in prisons must have general practitioners with army roots. At times, the doctors who came to Ramle Prison wore military uniforms and at other times doctor's coat. Doctors at times treated patients as if they were guards. It was not possible to receive mercy and transparency from the doctors. Israeli doctors gave solitary confinement to prisoners with whom they had disagreements with," Sellame stated.

When a prisoner was given solitary confinement, his health condition did not matter for the Israeli officials, Sellame underlined.

"One of our friends, Murad Abu Zakkum had cancer of the liver. Zakkum asked for a ventilator from the doctor so that the air in his room could be cleaned. His request was not accepted. Zakkum had to be connected to an artificial breathing device for 24 hours but he was sentenced to solitary confinement. He died shortly after," Sellame said.

"When a patient had to be treated outside the prison, Israeli officials only wasted time. Most of the deaths took place due to the Israeli bureaucracy which delayed the process," Sellame indicated.

"A more painful process waited for the prisoners whose treatments out of the prison were approved," Sellame said.

"A patient transferred to another hospital after long bureaucratic procedures was escorted by four armed Israeli troops. The prisoner's hands and feet were handcuffed and chain was placed around his waist so he could not move. Commanders had to be phoned and their approval was needed even when aprisoner had to use the restroom," Sellame stated.

"Many prisoners had to sign documents expressing that they did not wish to be treated outside due to the difficulties involved. Officials of the prison used such papers as proofs in courts," Sellame emphasized.

-"Doctors prescribed same medication to all patients and the medicines caused dependency-

"The doctors prescribed the same medication to all patients and the medicines caused dependency," Sellame underlined.

"There was only one doctor per 200-300 prisoners. A doctor prescribed the same medicines to all patients in order to complete his shift on time. Medicines that had to be used in cases of serious pain were given in high dosages and they caused dependency," Sellame said.

"Those patients with dependency used to hit their heads on the walls and beds when they could not find the medicines they were dependent on," Sellame argued.

There were 15 patients who were receiving treatment in bed, Sellame said.

"They were not even given wheelchairs to meet their needs. Those prisoners who continued their lives in bed received maltreatment from the prison's officials and were constantly offended. It took five years for Israeli officials to provide a hose to a patient who wanted easier shower," Sellame noted.

"Despite getting warned by international organizations to improve conditions in prisons, Israel did not improve the conditions," Sellame also said.

According to the governments of Ramallah and Gaza, there are 4,660 Palestinian prisoners in 17 Israeli jails.

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