The Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) organization is demanding that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) pay the $100,000 cost of a kidney transplant for a Palestinian terrorist serving a life sentence.
PHR filed the petition in Tel Aviv District Court for Administrative Affairs in September 2005 on behalf of Ahmed al-Tamimi, 44, from Ramallah, who was convicted, together with others, of killing and burning the body of Haim Mizrahi near the Beit El settlement in September 1993.
Three days ago, PHR asked the presiding judge, Noga Ohad, to disqualify herself because during a hearing on December 28, 2005, she allegedly indicated she believed there should be a connection between the nature of al-Tamimi's crime and his right to receive a kidney transplant from the state.
Meanwhile, Dr. Alex Adler, the Chief Medical Officer of the IPS confirmed to The Jerusalem Post that al-Tamimi was suffering from kidney failure, but that doctors believed the treatment of choice for him at this time was dialysis, not a transplant. However, Adler added that currently al-Tamimi was undergoing examination by senior doctors at Beilinson and Tel Hashomer hospitals and if they recommended that the prisoner should have a transplant immediately, the IPS would carry it out free of charge.
According to Attorney Johanna Lehrman, who is representing PHR and al-Tamimi in the petition, Adler told her in August that if al-Tamimi wanted a kidney transplant, he would have to pay for it out of his own pocket. Al-Tamimi's nephew is prepared to donate a kidney to his uncle.
In her petition, Lehrman wrote that a Prison Service order regarding security prisoners states that "the orders for regular prisoners will apply [to security prisoners] regarding all matters not expressly mentioned in this order." Furthermore, wrote Lehrman, the special IPS order on health issues specifically states that the health orders applying to regular prisoners will also apply to security prisoners. The health order itself stipulates that prisoners will be entitled to all the basic medical services provided by Kupat Holim Clalit, that is, the entire basket of health services approved by the government. The basket includes kidney transplants. Thus, according to Lehrman, al-Tamimi is entitled to a state-paid kidney transplant.
During the December hearing on the petition, Judge Ohad said, "the petitioner is a security prisoner who came to violate the sanctity of lifeâ€¦The key question here is whether a person who comes to harm or kill us is eligible for funding for the transplant treatment."
However, Adler himself did not make this argument. He told the Post that the IPS was obliged to provide proper medical service for all prisoners regardless of their crimes. The only question was a professional one - that is, what was the proper treatment for al-Tamimi at this time. As long as dialysis was the proper treatment, the IPS would not provide any other.