Tibi treats fainting Palestinian prisoner in court

Hunger striker loses consciousness during a petition hearing at the High Court; guard initially refuses MK access to prisoner.

May 3, 2012 20:01
2 minute read.


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Dramatic scenes unfolded in the High Court of Justice on Thursday, after a hunger-striking Palestinian security prisoner fainted during a petition hearing.

Bilal Diab, who alongside prisoner Thaer Halahleh has been on a hunger strike for 66 days, lost consciousness as Supreme Court Justices Elyakim Rubinstein, Yoram Danziger and Noam Sohlberg heard a petition against the prisoners’ administrative detention.

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When Rubinstein asked the court whether there was a doctor present, it was MK Dr. Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List- Ta’al) who got up to aid Diab.

Rubinstein asked Tibi, a trained physician, to examine Diab, but a guard from the Prisons Service’s Nahshon Unit refused to let him through, even after a court security guard told him that he must comply with Rubinstein’s decision.

Tibi informed the justice of the issue, and Rubinstein immediately issued a written order.

Eventually, the MK was allowed to examine Bilal, and found that the prisoner was in poor condition, with a body temperature of 35 degrees Celsius and a heart rate of 48 beats per minute.

Tibi asked the Prisons Service to evacuate Bilal to a hospital immediately, adding that the security prisoner could “barely feel his feet.”


Diab was moved to the gastroenterology department of the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Tzrifin, where his lawyer told reporters he was in “stable condition.”

Following the incident, the court issued a ruling stating what had happened, including that Tibi treated Diab.

The court is expected to make a decision on the petition at a later date.

Following the incident, Tibi slammed the Prisons Service guard’s conduct as “scandalous” and “in contempt of court,” and said that someone should be held accountable.

Prisons Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday afternoon that there were around 1,500 to 1,600 Palestinian inmates on hunger strike.

However, that number was constantly fluctuating, Weizman said, adding that there had been no new wave of hunger strikers in the past few days.

Later on Thursday, around 200 protesters from human rights and left-wing organizations demonstrated outside the Ramle Prison, where around 40 Palestinian prisoners are on hunger strike.

Among the demonstrators were MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) and members of the Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP).

CWP coordinator Mahasen Rabus said that the organization was there to “support the demands of the prisoners.”

Palestinian Arabic language news site al-Quds quoted Tibi on Thursday as saying that Diab was “really facing death, and reached the point of requiring transfer to a specialized hospital for comprehensive medical care.”

The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry on Thursday urged the Palestinians and Israelis to find a solution to the ongoing prisoner hunger strike.

Serry said he was deeply troubled by reports that at least two striking prisoners, held in administrative detentions, were in critical conditions.

He asked Israel to abide by its legal obligations under international law and to do everything in its power to preserve the health of the prisoners.

Egypt-based news outlet Moheet reported that Bilal’s lawyer, Jawad Boulus, said the court had provided “clear instructions to the Prisons Service to ensure the prisoners who appeared in court received the necessary medical treatment and care.”

Ben Hartman and Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

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