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Palestinian prisoner undergoes surgery for injury sustained during detention

Jan. 4, 2017 3:55 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 7, 2017 6:29 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Palestinian prisoner and law student Azmi Sahel Nafaa, 21, from the northern occupied West Bank city of Jenin underwent surgery on his right hand Tuesday to treat wounds he sustained during his detention by Israeli forces, according to his father, who claimed the family was not given prior notice regarding their son’s surgery.

In an interview with Sawt al-Asra (Voice of the Prisoners) radio, Nafaa’s father said the Israel Prison Service (IPS) cancelled his visit to his son, which was scheduled to take place this week.

According to Nafaa’s father, an IPS official called him to cancel his visit, saying that his son was currently not at Gilbao prison -- where Nafaa has been held since November 2015 -- and that he was undergoing a surgery. The IPS official did not inform Nafaa which hospital his son was in.

Nafaa’s father added that IPS officials had also been denying his mother and brother from visiting Nafaa for the past five months.

Nafaa, who was shot in his upper jaw with live fire by Israeli forces after he rammed his car into a group of Israeli security personnel, injuring four, at the Zaatara military checkpoint south of Nablus in the northern West Bank, suffered from injuries in his hand’s tendons, injuries in his face, loss of teeth and damages in his upper gum.

It remained unclear how many surgeries, if any, Nafaa has undergone since he was shot and detained over one year ago.

Nafaa’s father said that his son, who was studying law in Nablus’ Najah National University, still has “high spirits,” and called upon international and local human rights organizations to” end his son’s suffering in Israeli jails.”

According to Nafaa’s father, Israeli officials have renewed his son’s detention eight times, while various Arabic media outlets have reported that an Israeli court sentenced Nafaa to 20 years in prison on September 20.

In response to a request for comment, an IPS spokesperson Hana Herbst wrote via email on Thursday that, according to Gilboa prison staff, Nafaa's family had been aware of his "need" for surgery.

"Nafaa himself wanted the surgery and awaited it for a while. At the time of the surgery his family was contacted out of consideration so that they wouldn’t make the long journey to the prison in vain, for he was at the hospital," the statement said, which added, "I cannot elaborate on his surgery due to medical confidentiality, nonetheless, his lawyer has been updated and asked to explain and reassure the family."
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