Three Hunger-Striking Palestinian Prisoners May Die, Says Red Cross

Three Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike may die, the International Red Cross warned on Friday in a rare statement to the press. The three are Samer Al Barak, who has been on hunger strike for 117 days, Hassan Safadi, who has been on hunger strike for 87 days and Ayman Sharavna, who has been on hunger strike for 77 days. The three are at the Israel Prison Service clinic in Ramle.

Aside from the Israel Prison Service doctors, the Red Cross is the only body that has regularly visited the hunger striking prisoners. The organization usually prefers to express its opinion on the conditions of prisoners in private conversations with officials, and only rarely publishes these opinions in the press.

The latest Red Cross press release, in which the organization expressed its concern over the deterioration in the medical condition of the three prisoners, indicated the severity of the situation.

Earlier this week, a doctor from the organization Physicians for Human Rights visited the three hunger strikers, who do not trust Prison Service doctors and asked for check-ups by an objective physician, who is not subject to the management of the prison service and the Interior Ministry who appointed them.

The doctor reported clear deterioration in the condition of the hunger strikers, who are suffering from loss of energy (movement in the large muscle groups), significant muscle depletion, dizziness, low blood pressure, slow pulse, blurred vision, bleeding gums and a fungal infection in the mouth cavity. Despite this, they are being required to carry out daily activities, including showering, with no assistance. They told the doctor about the great physical effort it takes them to carry out activities, and that they often fall due to dizziness and fainting.

Once in a while they are transferred to the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center. On Wednesday, Lawyer Jawad Boulos, head of the legal department of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, visited Safadi, who was hospitalized there the day before. He found him restrained to the bed with both his legs secured to the bed, and surrounded by four prison service guards. Safadi was on hunger strike for 77 days earlier this year, which he ended together with the rest of the Palestinian prisoners after an agreement was reached with the Prison Service and the Shin Bet. Due to the policy of fastening prisoners to the bed, Sharavna is refusing to go to Assaf Harofeh for medical examinations any more.

Boulos said in statement to the Red Cross that any solution must account for the resolution adopted by the World Medical Association asserting that prisoners are to be permitted to accept or refuse feeding or medical care.

On Thursday, Physicians for Human Rights sent a letter to Dr. Benjamin Davidson, director of Assaf Harofeh, CEO of the Health Ministry Prof. Roni Gimzo, Dr. David Alligor replacement chief medical officer of the Israeli Prison Service, and Dr. Leonid Eidelman chairman of the Israeli Medical. 

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