Israel shuts Ramon prison over virus infections

Palestinian men sit in their brown prison uniforms behind glass talking on phones to relatives at the Gilboa prison, Israel (Hagai Aharon - AFP)

Middle East Monitor  /  December 27, 2020

Israeli prison authorities closed completely the Ramon prison in northern Israel following the detection of several coronavirus infections, according to a Palestinian NGO on Sunday.

In a statement quoted by Anadolu Agency, the Palestinian Prisoner Society said the closure was “a serious indication of a possible wide outbreak of the pandemic among the detainees”.

The NGO said prison authorities will conduct coronavirus tests on prisoners, but without specifying whether Palestinian prisoners tested positive for the virus. There was no comment from Israeli authorities on the claim.

Rights groups have repeatedly called on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners as the COVID-19 pandemic takes hold on both the occupation state and the occupied Palestinian territories. Gilboa prison was closed as a result of the spread of the deadly infection among Palestinian inmates.

On Saturday, Israel’s Public Security Minister Amir Ohana said that providing prisoners with coronavirus vaccines was not a “priority”.

Since April, around 140 Palestinian detainees were infected with COVID-19.

Israel is holding around 4,400 Palestinians, including 41 women, 170 children and 380 detainees imprisoned with no charges or trials under the Israeli administrative detention policy.