A teenager who fled chemotherapy treatment at a Haifa hospital last week has now posted a video clip begging to be allowed to die with dignity.
The 16-year-old boy from Tiberias was diagnosed with cancer about 18 months ago. The clip he uploaded on Sunday, which shows him with his back to the camera in what appears to be a hospital ward, urges the public to attend a demonstration that his family called for 6 P.M. Monday evening at the entrance to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.
“Dear people of Israel: I ask anyone who can to come demonstrate here, at the entrance to Rambam Medical Center, against the forced treatment they want to impose on me,” he says in the brief clip. “Anyone who has the opportunity – please come and demonstrate here so that they won’t force me to undergo treatment in handcuffs.”
He then concludes by saying, “Even if I have to die, let me die with dignity – that’s all I ask.”
The teen fled from Rambam last Wednesday because he wanted a break from the chemotherapy treatment he had been undergoing. A day later, police returned him to the hospital under a court order.
The boy’s uncle, Zvika, told Haaretz that the family’s approach is: “Yes to treatment, no to treatment in handcuffs.” He said the family is terming this evening’s demonstration “the protest of the handcuffed.”
“We urge everyone to come demonstrate against treatment in handcuffs,” the uncle said. “We’ll be there in handcuffs, and if they let the boy out, he’ll also be handcuffed at the demonstration.”
Zvika has also called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the health minister, and Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who runs the ministry in practice, to impose tighter restrictions on coercive treatment of patients.
He also denied any relationship between the family’s choice of treatment and the fact that it is ultra-Orthodox. He said the boy’s parents had objected to treatment only after they were so advised by a doctor.
In the year and a half since the youth developed cancer, he has gone into remission twice, but both times, the cancer reappeared.
In a statement issued last week, Rambam said it regretted that it was being painted as the villain of the story.
“The hospital has treated the boy for more than a year now, with all of the hospital staff investing unlimited time and energy to save his life – including repeated applications to the welfare authorities and the court,” it said.