Medical Care for Terrorists

The press has been abuzz recently with stories like this about the Palestinian security prisoner who died in an Israeli prison of throat cancer. While the media have spent a lot of time quoting Palestinian officials who have condemned Israel for his death and detailing Palestinian anger over his passing, a few important issues are not getting the attention that they deserve.

1) This particular prisoner — Maysara Abu Hamdiya — was serving a life sentence for attempted mass murder. He was a General in the Palestinian Security Services (yes, the quasi-military unit that is funded by international donations to shore up the “moderate” regime of the Palestinian Authority.) Apparently, General Hamdiya dispatched a young man with a bomb to a Jerusalem cafe with orders to kill as many people as possible. Thankfully, the bomb malfunctioned and the General was caught and arrested. Tragically, many similar acts took the lives of over a thousand Israelis during the second Intifada.

2) Despite being caught trying to murder dozens of Israeli cafe-goers, Hamdiya (like thousands of other Palestinians) was receiving care at an Israeli hospital. Most people don’t know about how many Palestinian civilians are being treated at Israeli hospitals (much of which is paid for by Israeli taxpayers.) Every day, Israel facilitates the passage of men, women, and children from Gaza who are treated at the superior medical facilities in Israel. One could make the case that this is extremely generous of Israel.

But this is a case of an actual terrorist who tried to murder Israelis and had been receiving Israeli medical care. The charge trumpeted in the headlines was that the care for this man who suffered from a terminal disease wasn’t good enough.

A Washington Post commentator linked to the following post which really puts this issue into perspective. Here’s an excerpt:

What’s more astounding is that while Hamas was launching those explosives, it continued sending patients to be treated in Israeli hospitals, many of them located in the same areas Hamas was targeting.


Israeli hospitals have been accepting Palestinian patients for years. There are simply not enough medical facilities in Gaza to treat its growing population. Those that are there are ill-equipped. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, there are 24 medical centers in Gaza, which serve 1.7 million people. Israel, in contrast, has 377 hospitals and a population of about 8 million. Last year alone, more than 100,000 Palestinians received medical care in Israel. Israeli hospitals continued to treat patients from Gaza even at the height of the fighting in November.