Human interest story of the day: Samir dies of a broken heart

by Yaniv Reich on November 16, 2009

“The occupation” can sometimes seem like a big, abstract beast. For people other than the Palestinians experiencing its suffocating grip on a daily basis, its all too easy to forget just how all-encompassing and drastic the occupation is. In order to try and convey the seriousness of the situation, I am launching a new blog feature called “human interest story of the day”, in which simple examples of life under occupation, under apartheid, under insecurity in Israel/Palestine are related.

Today, Yediot carries a news story about 25-year old Samir, a cardiac patient who, according to Yediot, “could still be alive today if he hadn’t slipped between the bureaucratic cracks of the various bodies dealing with the movement of patients from the Gaza Strip to Israel or the West Bank.”

Samir Al-Nadim was suffering “from a very high temperature, a severe infection in two of his heart valves, heart failure, and kidney failure,” said a Palestinian doctor. It was determined he needed immediate heart surgery in Nablus (the West Bank) because the Gaza hospital did not have the necessary supplies, in part because of the Israeli blockade of the strip.

About a month ago, the al-Nadim family turned to Israel with a request to allow Samir to undergo heart surgery in Nablus. The family filed the necessary paperwork with the Palestinian liaison authority and with the Doctors for Human Rights group, because of the urgency of the case. The application was received by the Coordination and Liaison Authority.

The family was then informed by the authority that Israel does not accept applications submitted by human rights organizations, only those filed by the Palestinian liaison authority. Therefore, the request submitted by Doctors for Human Rights was not taken into consideration in Samir’s file, which included a report by an Israeli doctor at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer saying that his case was critical and could not be delayed.

Al-Nadim’s family’s request was granted 23 days after it was submitted. Al-Nadim was brought to the hospital in Nablus, but died a day later. Dr. Yasser Abu-Tzafia told Ynet that al-Nadim arrived at the hospital in very serious condition, so much so that he was not fit to undergo the operation.

Samir leaves behind a wife and three children: two girls aged four and two and a one-year-old baby.

The Israeli Coordination and Liaison Authority and the Shin Bet have been passing the blame for the incident from one agency to the other:

“Any claim trying to make a connection between the manner in which the application was handled and al-Nadim’s death is a cynical and unethical attempt to exploit his death to knock the activities of the Coordination and Liaison Authority in Gaza.”

The Shin Bet said in response: “The Coordination and Liaison Authority’s request first arrived on October 12. Two days later, our response to the application was issued. The Shin Bet’s treatment of the application was executed quickly and irreproachably.”

Yet another Palestinian is dead because of the occupation. Yet another human being, who loved and was loved by other human beings, a person with dreams and fears and strengths and weaknesses, including his broken heart, is now dead.

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