Friday, June 14, 2024

Israeli-run hospital accused of ill-treatment of Palestinians from Gaza

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This undated photo, taken in the winter of 2023 by the whistleblower group of former Israeli soldiers, Breaking the Silence, shows blindfolded Palestinians. They have been captured in the Gaza Strip and transferred to the detention facility at the Sde Teiman military base in southern Israel. Patients at the hospital in the camp must also lie blindfolded, according to witness accounts. Photo: AP / NTB

Of NTB | 06.06.2024 05:33:02

Policy: According to the news agency, it has for a long time AP came strong criticism against the Israeli-run hospital, which is located in the Israeli military base Sde Teiman in the Negev desert.

The accusations come from, among others, the Israeli human rights organization Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I). They say that the field hospital is not subject to Israel’s patient rights law, and on April 18 they wrote on their website that they demanded the hospital be closed.

– As a result of the many testimonies from both detainees and medical personnel about the conditions at the facility, we conclude that the Sde Teiman facility must be shut down immediately. Interned Palestinians from Gaza who need medical treatment should be transferred to a civilian hospital, which maintains ethical and professional medical standards, writes PHRI.

Rights groups and other critics, on the other hand, believe that what began as a temporary place to hold and treat militant Palestinians after October 7 has turned into a rough detention center, where too little responsibility is taken for the detainees.

The Israeli government has been under increasing pressure to close down the camp and hospital.

Israel’s Supreme Court is now considering arguments from human rights groups who have demanded that the camp and hospital be closed.

The petition has been submitted by, among others, PHR-I, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Israeli human rights organization HaMoked and the Public Committee Against Torture (PCATI), writes the newspaper The Times of Israel.

Israeli prosecutors told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that inmates held at the Sde Teiman site, which was opened after Hamas’s October 7 terror attack on Israel, will gradually be transported to permanent prison facilities.

State Attorney Aner Helman, responding to a petition filed by, among others, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, told the court that 700 inmates had already been moved to Ofer, a military prison in the West Bank.

A further 500 were to be transferred over the coming weeks. The fate of 200 remaining Palestinian prisoners has not yet been determined.

– The transfers have started and most prisoners will be moved within a couple of weeks. This will lead to an improvement in the conditions for the remaining prisoners, it was stated.

Days after the October 7 Hamas terror attack, around 100 Israelis clashed with police outside one of Israel’s largest hospitals over false rumors that the hospital was treating a Palestinian militant.

As a result of this incident, some Israeli hospitals have refused to treat Palestinian detainees for fear of endangering staff and disrupting hospital operations.

They must also be prohibited from moving around and talking to each other. If they break the bans, they risk severe punishments, according to the testimonies of over 100 released prisoners, writes CNN.

Released prisoners have, among other things, testified to the UN organization UNRWA that they were subjected to regular and serious violence, which in some cases led to fractures, internal bleeding and even death.

The news agency AP has had the conditions confirmed by three people who have worked at the hospital.

Also BBC have spoken to healthcare professionals who tell many of the same stories.

Another whistleblower says that painkillers were used “selectively” and “in a very limited way”.

The military disputes the witness statements AP has obtained, and claims that patients are only handcuffed when the security situation requires it, and that they are removed if they cause harm to the patients. The patients are only in rare cases in nappies, it is further stated.

– We are condemned by the left because we do not meet ethical requirements, says amnesty doctor Yoel Donchin. He has worked at the Sde Teiman hospital since its inception and still works there.

– But at the same time we are condemned by the right. They think we are criminals since we treat alleged terrorists, he adds.

Donchin, who largely defends the facility against allegations of mistreatment, is nevertheless critical of some of the treatment. He says that most patients wear diapers and that they are not allowed to use the bathroom. They are chained around their arms and legs and blindfolded.

– Their eyes are covered all the time. I don’t know what the security reason for this is, he says.

Donchin also says that there is no individual assessment of the need for the restraints, and that even those patients who were unable to walk – such as those with leg amputations – were handcuffed to the bed.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, for its part, has argued that some of these deaths resulted from medical negligence.

The military says it is investigating the deaths.

The Israeli military rejects the allegations of inhumane treatment of Palestinians and says that all detainees who need medical attention get it.

According to Reuters, Israel is now in the process of dismantling the detention camp for Palestinians captured during the Gaza war.

What happens to the hospital was not mentioned. It has been a problem that civilian hospitals have refused to accept militant Palestinians for security reasons.

The accusations against the Sde Teiman hospital have been that patients are subjected to undignified and torture-like treatment. Many of the prisoners must be handcuffed, naked and in diapers. Many must also wear a blindfold all day.

A whistleblower describes how procedures at the military hospital were “routinely” carried out without painkillers, causing “an unacceptable level of pain” for detainees.

Of the three health workers interviewed by AP, two would only speak on the condition of full anonymity because they fear government retaliation and public reprimand.

The doctors there say they have treated many who appeared to be non-combatants. Donchin says that this includes elderly, sick patients with diabetes and high blood pressure.

Dr. Michael Barilan is a professor at Tel Aviv University Medical School. He has spoken to 15 hospital staff and disputes the stories of medical negligence.

(© NTB)

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