Deputy Director-General and head of the Defense Ministry's Rehabilitation Division, Brig. Gen. (res.) Hezi Meshita, appointed a medical panel to examine the causal link between captivity in enemy territory and various illnesses which redeemed captives have been afflicted with.
The Rehabilitation Division currently oversees around 300 disabled persons recognized by the IDF for disability due to captivity in enemy territory. According to the law, someone redeemed from captivity is one who has been held at least 14 days in enemy captivity.
Following the appeal of the organization "Awake at Night" for former Israeli POWs to the Secretary-General of the Defense Ministry, Maj. (Res.) Udi Adam, the ministry decided to examine whether illnesses which POWs developed over the years and after long periods of time are actually related to the period of their captivity.
The medical panel will be headed by Prof. Mordechai Shani, Israel Prize laureate for contribution to the health system and formerly the Director-General of the Ministry of Health and Director of the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer. A committee of about 15 of the most senior doctors in Israel in a wide range of fields will serve on the panel along with Professor Shani.
The medical panel will examine whether there is a causal (full or partial) link between captivity in enemy territory and various diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, vascular disease, mental deficiencies, hypertension, diabetes and more. The panel will examine, inter alia, the causal relationship with reference to the elapsed time between the time of captivity and the date of illness, place of captivity, conditions of captivity, genetic data and more.
The panel will submit its recommendations to the Ministry of Defense within a few months.