Middle East Monitor / March 18, 2020
Palestinian prisoners have today rejected their meals in protest against the Israeli Prison Service’s plans to stop supplying 140 products, including cleaning products, from the canteen and halt medical visits for detainees.
There are approximately 1,200 prisoners in need of treatment who suffer from medical negligence. Some 700 urgently need surgery and 24 suffer with cancer.
According to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club, 90 per cent of prisoners have become ill while in prison due to poor conditions and negligence which may have exacerbated their health.
Palestinian rights group Addameer’s Alaa Alskafi said: “We sent a letter to Israeli authorities, asking them about any coronavirus measures they take in their prisons. They replied only that they have prevented prison visits from families and lawyers.”
This was however brought into question as Israeli prison authorities are also banning Palestinian detainees from communicating with their families via telephone.
Addameer also noted that while prison authorities are supposed to provide sterilisers they have banned nearly 150 cleaning materials from the canteen. Ali Almoghrabi, spokesman of the Asra information office, said: “The Israeli prison system is the perfect environment for disease like coronavirus to spread easily among inmates due to the regularly overcrowded and unsanitary cell conditions. The authorities don’t take any preventive measures for Palestinian prisoners, even though they deal directly with their Israeli jailers, who of course can also become infected.”
Rights groups have called for the immediate release of 500 Palestinian prisoners who are currently jailed in Israeli administrative detention without charge or trial, in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Wafa Aludaini regularly contributes to Middle East Monitor