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Home > Uncategorised > Israël: No Involvement of Medical Teams in Torture!

Israël: No Involvement of Medical Teams in Torture!

Tuesday 8 October 2019, by siawi3

Source: PHRI, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and Gush Shalom 7.10.19

PHRI Members: Support the Prevention of the Involvement of Medical Teams in Torture


Dear members and friends,

Samer Arbid (photo) is currently treated at Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital. He was arrested on Wednesday, September 25, 2019 and taken for ISA interrogation at the Russian Compound detention facility in Jerusalem.

The ISA received approval from a legal official to use “special measures†to interrogate Arbid. On Friday, September 27, 2019, Arbid was taken to hospital in life-threatening condition. According to information current on Tuesday, October 1, 2019, Arbid was intubated and in a coma.

The possibility of violence against him during the arrest itself cannot be ruled out, and inquiries should be made as to whether he was medically examined prior to reaching the detention facility. According to Israel Prison Service (IPS) procedures, any person arriving at a detention facility must be examined by a physician within 48 hours of arrival, and according to need thereafter. Given that according to the accounts of Arbid’s lawyers and relatives, he was in good health prior to his arrest, it can be inferred that the violence used against him during his arrest and/or interrogation was the cause of the downturn in his condition, to the point of his life being at risk.

After Arbid was taken to hospital, his lawyers and family contacted the hospital several times to receive an update on his condition. These attempts included his wife arriving in person at the ICU on Wednesday October 1, 2019 and personal communications with the staff. All of these requests were denied.

PHRI also contacted the hospital twice (on September 29 and October 1, 2019), copying the Ministry of Health, the Israel Medical Association, and the Civil Administration Health Coordinator with a demand that Arbid’s family be notified of his condition, that any signs of violence be documented according to the provisions of the Declaration of Tokyo and the Istanbul Protocol, and that the Committee for Physician Reports on Interrogatee Abuse, which was established within the Ministry of Health in 2011, be informed.

The response we received from the director of Hadassah Mount Scopus on October 2, 2019, stated that “information regarding hospital patients is privileged, in keeping with our obligation to maintain medical confidentiality. Inquiries concerning detainees should be addressed to the security agencies†. Reporters who have had contact with the hospital told PHRI the hospital informed them the case has been reported to the Ministry of Health.

Following the hospital’s response, PHRI contacted the legal department of the Israel Medical Association by telephone, asking they take action to have the hospital provide Arbid’s wife with an update. The Israel Medical Association responded that Ethics Committee Chair, Dr. Tami Karni, was currently abroad, and that per inquiries with the Israel Medical Association legal department, they were unable to do anything at the moment.

During a hearing of a motion filed by Arbid’s lawyers to have him released given his medical state, Military Judge Major Merav Hershkwitz Yitzhaki stated: “The suspect’s medical state is gradually improving and his interrogation may resume in the coming days†. Arbid’s lawyers received an update on his medical condition according to a decision issued by the military judge. ICRC representatives visited Arbid at the hospital on October 2, 2019 and gave his wife an update about his condition.

Following this statement, members of the boards of directors of PHRI and , the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, as well as members of PHRI’s ethics committee, contacted the hospital, the Israel Medical Association, the Ministry of Health and the IPS, demanding that the medical staff at Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital safeguard Samer Arbid’s life and health and adhere to medical ethics. The letter stressed that the medical staff must actively prevent his return to an interrogation in which the use of special measures amounting to torture has reportedly been approved, and that the hospital must prevent any use of its premises for interrogation purposes.

In its last communication, PHRI repeated the main provisions of the Declaration of Tokyo and the Istanbul Protocol, which have been adopted by the Israel Medical Association and relate to the conduct of medical crews with respect to suspected torture. PHRI took out an ad displaying the provisions of the Declaration of Tokyo in Haaretz daily newspaper this morning.

We will continue our advocacy work with the relevant institutions and the medical community both in Israel and abroad to ensure all those involved adhere to medical ethics.

We repeat our request that you join us and take whatever action you can in order to remind your colleagues of the need to adhere to ethical rules and keep patients safe from torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

Following Samer Arbid’s hospitalization in critical condition after his arrest and interrogation by the Israel Security Agency (ISA), PHRI recalls, again, that medical professionals are absolutely prohibited from taking part in torture in any way and have an obligation to take measures to protect patients who may have been or later could be subjected to torture. Given the silence of medical institutions regarding Arbid’s case so far, we ask members of PHRI’s medical teams to take action and contact the relevant medical institutions and staff and urge them to follow the ethical guidelines as enunciated in the Declaration of Tokyo and the Istanbul Protocol.

Anat Litvin
Director of the Prisoners and Detainees Department
Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI)