Inhumane transport conditions for Palestinian prisoners for medical treatment and court hearings constitute ill-treatment

Despite Israel Prison Service commitments to Supreme Court, the conditions of transportation for prisoners to medical clinics and courts remain so bad that many prisoners refrain from travelling in order to avoid unwarranted suffering.

On the eve of Palestinian Prisoners' Day, 17 April, Adalah together with Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I), the Public Committee Against Torture (PCATI), and the Haifa University Prisoners' Legal Clinic sent a letter to the Attorney General, Yehuda Weinstein, and the commander of the Israel Prison Service (IPS), Aharon Franco, demanding that the IPS comply with its commitment to the Israeli Supreme Court, made in 2009, to improve the conditions of transport of prisoners as well as the waiting stations in which they must stay.


Recent testimonies from prisoners show no change regarding the prison authorities' treatment towards them during transport, suggesting that many cruel, inhumane and degrading practices were continuing. Many trips that should take a relatively short amount of time instead take several hours with the prison transportation. The seats in the "posta" vehicles, the transportation method used by the IPS, are made of metal, which are very cold in winter and burning hot in summer, thus making it painful for the prisoners to endure rides for long hours. Prisoners on long commutes are not offered food or water, nor are they offered restroom breaks.


Adalah Attorney Aram Mahameed and PHR-I Attorney Ola Shtiwi included testimonies in their letter to the AG as evidence of the difficult circumstances that exist for prisoners commuting to and from medical facilities. One such testimony was from W.M., who was transferred from Eshel prison on 8 December 2014 to an orthopedic examination at the designated medical facility for prisoners. Matthews left Eshel prison at 2:30 AM and arrived at the clinic at 10:00 AM. The trip took 7.5 hours when the route itself should not have taken longer than an hour.


In another testimony by A.S., a Palestinian prisoner suffering from severe lower back and knee pain, Adeeb's physician in prison referred him to an outside medical facility for X-rays. However, Adeeb refrained from going to the facility because he knew about the long commute and the harsh transportation conditions. 


Another prisoner, Adnan Hamarsheh, in Meggido prison, suffered a stroke and is now impaired on his left side, has difficulty walking and has weakened vision. His situation indicates the disregard for prisoners’ safety in transport methods. On 29 June 2014, Hamarshah left the prison for a checkup and was forced to stay at a waiting station for 3 days without medication or treatment. After the three days had passed, Hamarshah refused to continue his visit at the medical facility and requested to return to the prison.


The human rights organizations argued in the letter that: “The examination of the transportation conditions provided by the prisons authorities reveals a very disturbing reality about the vehicles and the waiting stations for the prisoners. These conditions violate the basic rights of prisoners including the right to medical treatment and a fair judicial proceeding. It is a basic right for prisoners to receive food, water and to use the restroom, which derives from their right to health, physical wellbeing and dignity. Violations of these rights are a grave breach of the laws that govern the treatment of prisoners. The severe and avoidable suffering of the prisoners in transit to and from medical facilities, courts and other locations is a violation of prisoners' right to appropriate and fair medical treatment.”