Israel Won't Fund Burned Terrorist's Reconstructive Surgery

The court denied the appeal of a Palestinian who was injured in 2015 after setting fire to a gas cylinder at a checkpoint and asked for her prison to fund her nose reconstruction

Chen Maanit
Chen Maanit
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The scene of the attack near Ma’aleh Adumim, in 2015.
The scene of the attack near Ma’aleh Adumim, in 2015.Credit: Police Spokesperson
Chen Maanit
Chen Maanit

The Haifa District Court last week denied a Palestinian prisoner’s appeal to receive government funding for medical care for injuries that she sustained in a 2015 terror attack that she perpetrated.

Judge Ron Shapiro ruled that “an injury caused intentionally by a prisoner is a reason not to approve medical care funded by the public purse.” He also called for making public a standard list of medical services that are available to prisoners.

In 2015, the woman ignited a gas canister at the A-Zaim checkpoint near the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, east of Jerusalem. In addition to her own extensive burns, she injured a police officer. 

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The woman was sentenced to 11 years in prison after being convicted of an attempted terrorist attack. She has since received medical care from the Israel Prison Service, but it was also recommended that she undergo surgery to reconstruct her nose. The service rejected her application for funding for the treatment on the grounds that it is not a procedure required for normal functioning.

On appeal, the woman claimed that the prison service should be obligated to provide prisoners with the medical services included in the "health basket" – the medical services provided to the general public by the public health system – without distinction between functional and non-functional treatment. The prison service responded that approval of treatment not required to maintain prisoners' health would have “broad implications for the organization’s resources.”

Judge Shapiro ruled that the court could only intervene in the prison service's medical decisions in cases in which they are clearly unreasonable. "The right to medical care is given to all citizens and is part of the right to health, but it does not establish an obligation on the state's part to provide every person with all medical care," he said.

An Israel Prison Service vehicleCredit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

"The state’s duty applies to treatments included in the health basket, and extends to additional services under special circumstances,” he ruled, noting however that the health basket only serves as a guideline for determining the treatments to which prisoners are entitled.

In denying the prisoner's appeal, Shapiro was critical of prison service procedures, which he said were unclear. The main criterion the prison service uses in approving exceptional medical treatment for a prisoner is the cost, he noted.

"To the extent that the Israel Prison Service recognizes the general health basket as a guideline, it is appropriate that it establish ... clear criteria for deviation from it that are transparent and accessible to the public," he stated.

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