IDF officials say the medical report from physicians who treated the woman who died over the weekend at Bil'in contradicts the family's version of events. The family says the woman, Jawaher Abu Rahmah, died in the hospital after inhaling tear gas used by Israeli soldiers in the Friday protest against the separation barrier at the West Bank village.
According to information obtained by Haaretz from Palestinian medical sources, in the weeks before Abu Rahmah's death she was taking drugs prescribed for a medical condition. It is not known whether these drugs, combined with the tear gas and the "skunk bombs" used by the soldiers, could have caused her death.
Yesterday the Abu Rahmah family continued to receive condolence visits at their home. Abu Rahmah, 36, died on Saturday in the Ramallah hospital she was admitted to on Friday after being exposed to tear gas.
Two younger female relatives who were with Abu Rahmah at the demonstration and paid a condolence call yesterday said the soldiers fired large amounts of tear gas and sprayed protesters with the noxious-smelling liquid known as skunk bombs. They said she called out, "I'm dying."
Her family says Abu Rahmah's death was caused by the Israel Defense Forces' use of a particularly lethal type of tear gas, but they cannot explain why other demonstrators affected by the tear gas did not need medical care.
Eyewitnesses told Haaretz that the tear gas had an immediate and dramatic effect on Abu Rahmah, who within a few minutes after exposure went into convulsions, began foaming at the mouth and lost consciousness.
Abu Rahmah's brother Samir said that for several weeks his sister had complained of bad headaches, mainly near one ear. He said she also had dizzy spells and problems keeping her balance and had unusual marks on her skin.
On December 21, Abu Rahmah saw Dr. Khaled Badwan, head of the ear, nose and throat department of Jerusalem's Augusta Victoria Hospital. He refused to be interviewed for this report.
According to a document obtained by Haaretz, Badwan prescribed a common remedy for dizziness and instructed her to bathe her ear in hot water. Samir said Badwan thought the problem was caused by water trapped in the middle ear, but nevertheless ordered a CT brain scan.
Physicians consulted for this article said Badwan probably suspected another condition.
After receiving normal results from the December 27 brain scan, Abu Rahmah saw Dr. Nasser al-Mualem at the Ramallah hospital, who according to Samir said her problem was common and told her to return in one month.
The medical documents seem to support Samir's claim that with the exception of the headaches and dizziness, his sister was in generally good health. None of the doctors consulted for this article could think of a condition or symptoms that could be fatal in the presence of tear gas.