Ministry: Al-Taj stable but may need surgery

Maan News Agency | April 18, 2013


213722_345x230[1]BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Mohammad al-Taj, who Israel freed on Thursday, is in a stable condition but may require dangerous surgery, a Palestinian Authority Health Ministry official said.

Israel released al-Taj, who had carried out two long-term hunger strikes, on health grounds. He was transferred to intensive care at the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah.

“He suffers from pulmonary fibrosis and heart hypertrophy. Pulmonary fibrosis can be treated by a lung transplant, but that is a difficult and uncertain surgery,” said Health Ministry undersecretary Anan al-Masri.

Doctors will prepare a comprehensive medical report and the ministry will provide any treatment al-Taj needs, al-Masri told Ma’an, adding that he would be sent abroad for surgery if necessary.

Israeli President Shimon Peres pardoned al-Taj on Thursday due to concerns over his health, his office said.

“Peres accepted the recommendation of the Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, in coordination with the security services, and signed the release of Mohammed Kamal al-Taj,” a statement said.

“The decision to release him was taken on humanitarian grounds as the prisoner was ill with a serious medical condition,” it added.

‘A giant of defiance’

Al-Taj was detained in 2003 and sentenced to 15 years.

A member of the Palestine Liberation Front, al-Taj had held two separate hunger strikes alongside other inmates in 2012, one lasting 67 days and the other 45 days.

Ramallah Governor Layla Ghannam visited al-Taj in hospital and called on the international community to intervene to end the suffering of all sick Palestinian prisoners.

“All free people of the world should intervene to end the suffering of Palestinian prisoners held in Ramle cemeteries,” Ghannam said, referring to the clinic at Israel’s Ramle prison.

“I am in front of a giant of defiance whose spirits were not shaken by the wardens’ arrogance. Our prisoner is like his name, a crown on the head of each Palestinian,” she added.

Al-Taj means “crown” in Arabic.

“Our prisoners go to jail on foot, and when they leave, they are either carried in coffins or very exhausted as a result of physical and psychological torture in jail,” the governor said.

The death from cancer of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, a Palestinian prisoner held by Israel, provoked widespread demonstrations and violence across the West Bank this month, including the killing of two Palestinian teenagers by Israeli troops.


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