During the events of January 18, 2017, in Umm al Khiran, Ya’qub Abu al-Qi’an was shot by police officers and left to bleed for some three hours until he died. We contacted the Ministry of Health in June 2018, together with Adalah, demanding an investigation into why the police physician who was at the scene did not provide al-Qi’an with medical assistance.
The Ministry of Health has recently informed us that the Department of Police Investigations (DPI) had finished its investigation and that “the DPI inquiry did not indicate the physician had been negligent. She most likely did not notice the injured man and cared for other injured parties”. The notice stated the physician would be called in for questioning should her name be provided by the DPI.
Documents from the investigation into the conduct of the physician and the paramedic present on the scene, provided to us by organizations working on the tragic events of that night, PCATI and Adalah, indicate this is not a localized failure, but a systemic problem. Vague procedures for caring for injured parties in scenes suspected as scenes of a terrorist attack allow for situations in which injured parties suspected as perpetrators do not receive care.
It is also unclear why the medical crew failed to call in a bomb expert to examine al-Qi’an and give them approval to access him (as is standard procedure when injured parties are suspected perpetrators, which, in this instance, turned out not to be the case); Nor is it known who pronounced him dead when he was taken to the forensic institute at Abu Kabir. In addition to all this, there are contradictions between the account given by the paramedic, who says he saw the injured man, and the physician who denies seeing him.
While there is no doubt the situation was extremely difficult for the officers and medical crew who witnessed their colleagues getting injured and killed, physicians cannot act as judge and jury. Physicians and other medical staff must treat all injured parties according to triage principles. When an injured party is suspected as a perpetrator, they must alert a bomb expert immediately so that they are able to provide care.
Given all this, we contacted the Ministry of Health once again this week, noting that the DPI is not competent to investigate medical malpractice and that this was the purview of the Ministry of Health. A situation in which a man is left to bleed to death while medical crews are on the scene should, at the very least, prompt a more thorough inquiry. The absence of one points to a systemic moral failure that the Ministry of Health can no longer ignore.