Family Of Released Prisoner Accuses Israel Of Causing Him Incurable Illness
06 January 2014
By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank
The Family of Naim Shawamreh, a 45-year-old
Palestinian prisoner released by Israel on Tuesday has
accused the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) of having
deliberately injected him with a chemical substance
that caused him an incurable illness.
The illness is known medically as Amyotrophic Lateral
Sclerosis or (ALS). It is also known as Lou Gerig's
According to medical dictionaries, ALS is a rapidly
progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease
that attacks the nerve cells (neurons) responsible for
controlling voluntary muscles (muscle action we are
able to control, such as those in the arms, legs, and
Early symptoms include fasciculation, cramps, tight
and stiff muscles (spasticity), muscle weakness
affecting an arm or a leg, slurred and nasal speech,
or difficulty chewing or swallowing. These general
complaints then develop into more obvious muscle
weakness and atrophy, spreading to other parts of the
body as the disease progresses.
It is obvious that many of these symptoms appeared
rather conspicuously on Naim who arrived at his home
in an ambulance. He could hardly verbally communicate
with well-wishers or the media.
Journalists were politely asked by Naim's family to
refrain from "asking too many questions" in light of
his health condition.
A strongly slurred speech and an inability to hold a
microphone with his hands were noticed.
They wanted to kill him
Nabil, Naim's younger brother, says Naim told him the
Israeli Prison Service (IPS) deliberately injected him
with a chemical substance that caused the ALS disease
to afflict his body.
"He told me they (the Prison's doctors) gave him a
pill seven months ago which caused several symptoms to
appear on him including a severe swelling of the face,
severe headache and slurred speech.
"They simply wanted to kill him."
Nabil said the Israeli Prison Service admitted that
that the "pill" was given to him by mistake.
Nabil, who didn't seem fully aware of his brother's
medical condition, said he hoped Naim would be able to
receive proper medical care abroad and be cured.
The Governor of Hebron who came to wish him well
promised his family that every effort would be made to
give him the best possible medical treatment.
Nabil was reminded of the gravity and seriousness of
the charges he was voicing. He argued that his brother
was in nearly perfect physical condition and that he
only began to experience the illness soon after he was
given "the pill."
The Israeli response
This correspondent contacted Sivan Wayzman, a
spokeswoman for the IPS who categorically denied the
Wayzman, who expressed her astonishment at the
charges, emailed the following response.
"The Israel Prison Service declines all allegations of
any intended actions which allegedly caused the
prisoner's disease. It is a well-known fact that there
is little understanding of the causes of ALS disease.
Nonetheless, 10 percent of the cases have to do with
Since the prisoner has been diagnosed as suffering
from it, he has been examined and treated by
specialists who have laid out the ways in which he
must be treated – the IPS has followed accordingly.
The court, who has discussed the prisoner's petition,
concluded that the treatment he is receiving is
professional and adjusted to his needs."
Ahmed Ibrahim is a medical doctor from the Hebron
region specialized in muscular flaccidity. He says
that it is not medically known that a given chemical
or biological agent can cause the sudden occurrence of
However, he noticed that Israel was highly advanced in
the production of chemical and biological agents that
can kill people either immediately or slowly.
He cited the Khalid Mishaal case in 1997, when two
Mossad agents carrying fake Canadian passports tried
to assassinate the Islamist Palestinian leader by
smacking a device to Mishaal's left ear that
transmitted a fast-acting poison.
The two Mossad agents were captured and Israel was
forced to hand over to the Jordanians the antidote
that saved Mishaal's life.
However, despite his progressive disability and
deteriorating health (it is unclear if he knows his
condition is incurable), Naim maintained a broad smile
as he thanked everyone who came to congratulate him.
His mother, although relieved that her son is finally
free, is worried that he may not live long due to his
"I am really having a lot of mixed feelings. On the
one hand, I am happy that he is out of jail. On the
other hand, I am extremely worried about his illness
and the possibility that he won't recover. I implore
God to cure him."
Khalid Amayreh is an American-educated journalist
living in the Hebron region of the West Bank.