Middle East Monitor / March 14, 2022
Israeli prison services used the COVID-19 restrictions as a tool against the Palestinian inmates, with many of them reporting deliberate medical negligence and no serious measures to stem the spread of the pandemic in jails, according to a recently released report compiled by Palestinians Prisoners Society (PPS), and reported by Anadolu News Agency.
“The most dangerous challenge is that the Israeli authorities are trying to convert these actions from temporary to permanent. All of these measures are violations of prisoners’ rights,” said Amani Sarahneh, the spokesperson of the PPS.
While, by November 2020, more than 100 COVID-19 cases were reported among prisoners, the PPS report quoting ex-prisoners claimed that Israeli prison guards were spitting on roofs and public places.
“Israeli authorities detain more than six inmates in each cell in the jails, which lead to more risk of spread of COVID-19 among them, especially they are in contact with the jailers who are in contact with the outside,” the report said.
Sarahneh emphasized that the vaccination process also faced many challenges due to Israeli officials who publicly refused to give the vaccine to prisoners.
“These measures imposed double isolation against the inmates, which has affected all aspects of their lives, in communication with each other and with their relatives, has hampered any collective struggle that can be done,” she added.
The PPS report further added that dozens of Palestinians have been detained in centres that do not meet the minimum conditions of human life.
“The forces have also continued to torture detainees in police custody, using their psychological and physical methods. In some cases, the epidemic has been used to pressure and terrorize detainees, apart from the tragic conditions in the detention centres,” said Sarahneh.
The report said the detainees were kept in such humid cells, where there is no scope to get sunlight or air, creating a fertile ground for the spread of diseases. The cells were also devoid of cleaning materials and detainees were denied facility to bathe or to get clothes.
The report said that Palestinians in the occupied territories suffered badly during the pandemic as more than 66,000 workers stopped working in 2020 and the number of the workforces was dropped from 951,000 to a mere 884.
Palestinian territories have reported 579,744 COVID-19 cases with 5,316 deaths so far, according to worldmeters.info.