Opinion |

How Will You Deal With Your Consciences, Doctors?

A Palestinian cancer patient was shot by soldiers on his way to his last chemotherapy session - and you, the Israeli hospital staff, showed you are no different than those who killed him.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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The parents of Mohammed-Aamar Jalad, who were not allowed to see their dying son.
The parents of Mohammed-Aamar Jalad, who were not allowed to see their dying son. Credit: Alex Levac
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

He lay in your hospital for three months straight. For part of the time, he was sedated and on a respirator in intensive care, after which he improved and was transferred to the surgical department. You knew that he was 25 years old and had cancer and that until recently, he had been undergoing chemotherapy. You also knew that the soldiers had shot him in the stomach, causing damage to internal organs. Apparently you provided the correct medical treatment for him.

He lay in your hospital for three months. None of you were bothered by the fact that he was lying in his room, totally cut off from his family. After all, you saw him gradually come out of his coma, his abdomen hacked to pieces. Didn’t you think he deserved to see his parents, even for a moment? A caress of the hand? A telephone call at least? You saw him when he was near death, but even then he didn’t deserve such consideration?

Maybe you thought he didn’t have parents or that they didn’t care. Did you think it was all right that a wounded cancer patient would undergo so much without someone close to him by his side, in addition to the soldiers or armed police that guarded his room? Didn’t you see his elderly mother come periodically to the hospital unit, exhausted after the ordeal of checkpoints, begging to be allowed to see him for at least a moment, a plea that cruelly fell on deaf ears?

Why didn’t you consider doing anything about it? After all, it was taking place inside your hospital, where you are responsible for everything that takes place. Didn’t you see? Didn’t you hear? Didn’t it bother you?

Didn’t it gnaw at you to know why they shot him, this young cancer patient who was on his way to his last chemotherapy session at a hospital in the West Bank city of Nablus? Do you believe the soldiers’ fabrications that he had tried to attack them with “a knife sharpener”? Do you believe everything the army tells you? Maybe it’s none of your business. It simply doesn’t relate to you, small-minded as you are.

Didn’t you think it your duty to keep his family informed about his condition or to talk to his parents about his chances of recovery? Maybe you thought that because he was a Palestinian or because the soldiers and police told you he was “a terrorist,” there was no one to look after him, because it’s well-known that Arabs don’t love their children as we love ours. You went by the book when it came to his medical treatment, and to hell with the rest.

Those are the rules and those are the regulations, and who you are you to violate them? And where were the heads of the department and the hospital? Did they also agree to have such a horror take place in their hospital? Remember the Hippocratic oath?

And when he died at the end of last week – it’s not clear when and of what – didn’t you think it your obligation to inform the family, to tell them what he died of? To explain to his sister, the dean of a nursing school in Ramallah, the circumstances of his death? And when the army or the police took his body, did it interest you to know that your country held on to the body another 10 days for barbaric reasons, just for the purpose of abuse?

On Saturday afternoon, he was buried in the West Bank town of Tul Karm. Mohammed-Aamar Jalad, a university student and cancer patient who had obtained an American green card in a U.S. government immigration lottery and dreamed America. The soldiers had shot him in the stomach while he was quickly crossing the street after getting out of a van on his way to his last chemotherapy session.

His father, a mythical driving instructor in Tul Karm, and his mother, who had endured sleepless months worrying about her son, now have a grave before which they can prostrate themselves. Hanging on the wall of their home is a picture of the family’s grandfather, the first soldier in Tul Karm to enlist in the Israel Police.

So how will you, the doctors, nurses and social work staff of Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, also called the Rabin Medical Center, deal with your own consciences? Other than one doctor, Dr. Jihad Bishara, who at least responded to the inquiries from the helpless parents, you didn’t bother to provide assistance to the family or to your patient.

You didn’t think about the society that you are living in and what kind of doctors it has been producing — doctors who have been losing their humanity. You’re no different at all from the soldiers who shot Jalad to death or the generals and politicians who engaged in profiteering over his body.

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