Omar Sa’ad was hospitalized late last week after complaining for three straight days of chest pains. Attempts by military intelligence to transfer him to Tel Aviv’s Ichilov hospital failed after both his family and medical staff protested the life-threatening decision.
Omar Sa’ad, a Druze conscientious objector who is currently serving his seventh prison term for refusing to join the Israeli army, was hospitalized in Haifa last week with a liver infection. According to a report by Raanan Shemesh Forshner, two policemen are currently guarding Sa’ad’s hospital room “so that he does not escape.”
On Saturday, while he was still undergoing treatments, military police personnel arrived at the hospital and asked to transfer Sa’ad to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. Both the family and the hospital staff opposed the transfer, which they viewed as an opportunistic maneuver with no medical justification. In the end, Omar was allowed to remain in Haifa’s Bnei Zion Hospital.
In an interview with Forshner, Omar’s father, Zaharaldin, had this to say:
On Saturday afternoon, an intelligence officer from Prison 6 named Tal came with the military police. We saw that the medical staff is planning something and they told us that the director of internal medicine ward, Dr. Schiff, is on his way in order to transfer Omar to Ichilov in Tel Aviv. We spoke with the doctors, who said that there is no reason to transfer him, apart from ‘intelligence reasons that Omar knows about.’ According to me that very ‘reason’ is that there will be a protest in front of the hospital and they rushed to transfer him. We told the doctors that intelligence has no right to interfere and that any worsening in his condition will be their responsibility.
Finally, at the insistence of the family, Dr. Schiff told the intelligence officer that Omar will be in real danger if transferred to another hospital, and it was decided that he would remain at Bnei Zion. According to Zaharaldin, Omar’s health deteriorated after the rushed attempt to transfer him.
Sa’ad, who has served 142 days in military jail, had been complaining of chest pains and tremors for three days before his hospitalization, his father told Forshner. Omar told his father that the prison guards at Prison 4 ignored his complaints, thinking he was pretending or exaggerating. Omar was then transferred to Prison 6, where it was decided to move him to a military medical clinic. There, a doctor decided that he must be immediately moved to the emergency room. Omar was hospitalized in the internal ward after doctors stated that his liver was on the verge of collapse.
His father has no doubt that the conditions of Prison 4 led to his son’s condition. After visiting Omar in prison for the first time (his previous sentences were served in Prison 6), Zaharaldin was shocked by the stench and the look of the place. “Omar went into prison a healthy person, a musician, an athlete, this is how he came out.”
“Do the medics and doctors now understand that Omar was not exaggerating?” asks his father. “Do they comprehend that prevention of treatment is a form of negligence?”
According to Forshner, over 50 activists protested for the conscientious objector’s release from prison outside the hospital Saturday night. Sa’ad, who declared in late 2012 that he would not serve in the IDF because it would force him to fight against other Arabs, is currently serving his seventh consecutive prison term.