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Palestinian died in Israeli prison because of medical neglect, group finds

Faris Baroud, from Gaza, spent 28 years in Israeli prisons. His mother was not allowed to visit him for the last 12
Faris Baroud's mother, Raya Obeid, died before realising her last wish of hugging her son (Twitter/@rdooan)

A Palestinian prisoner from the Gaza Strip died late on Wednesday evening due to Israeli medical neglect inside Ramon prison, the Palestinian Prisoner's Society (PPS) said in a statement.

Faris Baroud, 51, from al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza, had spent 28 years incarcerated by Israel and died in the Soroka Medical Centre. 

Baroud was given 35 years in prison on top of a life sentence in March 1991 after being accused by a military court of killing an Israeli settler.

In total, he spent almost ten years in solitary confinement, the last stint lasting four consecutive years.

Baroud's name was on the list of the 2014 prisoners exchange deal with Israel, but his name was dropped along with 30 others at the last minute.

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In 2018, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority stopped sending him a monthly salary - bowing to American and Israeli pressure over compensation sent to prisoners and families of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces - which worsened his financial situation inside the prison.

He suffered from severe pains in his liver and asthma in recent weeks and was denied medical treatment in Ramon prison, according to PPS. His liver was partly removed in 2018, and he also lost 80 percent of his eyesight and developed glaucoma in the last four months of his life. 

He spent his last days in Section 4, Room 60 in Ramon, a notorious prison in the south of the Negev desert.

PPS said prisoners in Ramon had declared a general strike after hearing news of Baroud's death.

They refused to distribute meals and to do any work, reportedly bracing themselves in case of any crackdown by the prison administration.

Baroud's mother, Raya Obeid, was denied visits to her son for the past 12 years by the Israeli Prison Service after she had a heated talk with an Israeli prison guard.

She died in May 2017 aged 85 while Baroud was participating in a large-scale prisoner hunger strike. According to Al Jazeera, her last wish had been to hug her son. Baroud's cousin Mohammed told local media that Baroud's mother lost her eyesight out of grief at being denied visitations.

According to PPS, 160 prisoners are suffering from critical illnesses inside Israeli prisons. Baroud is the reportedly one of 218 Palestinian prisoners to have died in Israeli custody due to medical neglect.

Hanan Ashrawi, Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) executive committee member, said in a statement that the Israeli government was "fully responsible for the untimely death of Faris Baroud and the inhumane treatment he was subjected to for nearly three decades".

She blamed Baroud's imprisonment conditions for causing the deterioration of his physical and mental health.

"It is high time for Israel’s brutality against Palestinian prisoners, illegally imprisoned inside Israeli territory, to be thoroughly and independently investigated," Ashrawi said.

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