MPTers recently joined other activists to visit Amal Jumaa in the Nablus hospital. Amal belonged to Fatah’s armed wing and was sentenced to eleven years of which she served nine. She was released October 11 as part of the Hamas/Israeli prisoners swap. Amal gained a lot of publicity and media attention after going on a hunger strike recently. She made this decision after the Palestinian Authority failed to provide her with the appropriate treatment following her treatment while in prison for uterine cancer.. More information about this can be found at:
The history of Amal’s neglected health condition goes much further back though. She was diagnosed with cancer of the uterus back in 2004 and her condition was neglected for six years while she was in both Ramleh and HaSharon prisons. We asked if she was given anything after she had been diagnosed. “Water”, was her reply, and some light pain-killers similar to Panadol. As her condition became graver, she was also administered some drops. They had strong side effects such as constant drowsiness and what was described as fits of madness: pulling her hair, yelling. The director of the prison said she was fine. Amal’s cellmate decided to prove that her behavior was due to side-effects and she started taking the drops herself. Her behavior got bizarre in the same way and she slept through her days as well. A hunger strike was started by other female inmates asking for Amal to be treated. It lasted for 4 weeks and 4 days.
In 2010 Amal was finally taken to a hospital in Haifa for an operation. She was handcuffed the whole time while in hospital and was allowed no visits at all, not even from the Red Cross. After the operation she got transferred to Damun prison. She developed some severe bleeding. Once again she was not treated and was drugged instead. Amal started sending letters to friends and media asking for help from outside. The PA Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs provided money for 4 months so she could buy pads to take care of the bleeding.
Shortly after her release she collapsed and was taken to the hospital in Nablus. Even after freedom had been granted to her, she still had to resort to a hunger strike to receive her right to a proper treatment. Now the Palestinian President himself is making sure she is to be sent to a hospital abroad where she can receive the necessary treatment after the many years of neglect in prison. There have been delays in her travel due to the days off because of the Eid Religious holiday and delays in her having a passport issued to travel. Further tests will determine if treatment will continue in Jordan or someplace in Europe. Amal was visibly tired during our visit. Most of her story was related to us by a friend of hers, she herself had no voice to speak and was constantly slipping into drowsiness. All of her upper front teeth have been taken out during her imprisonment and she showed us where they used to be in her mouth. She managed to stand up and shake our hands when we walked in and also pose for a picture with us.
Amal means “Hope” in Arabic. There are still many concerns but there is now more hope for Amal.