Palestinian prisoners to protest as Israel not preventing coronavirus spread 

Palestinian prisoners in Israel's Al-Naqab Prison (Palinfo)

Middle East Monitor  /  March 18, 2020

Israeli prison administration are being accused of not taking the proper measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and treat those who may become sick, and are instead using the disease to continue their abuse of Palestinian prisoners, Wafa news agency reported.

Fears of a coronavirus outbreak in prisons holding Palestinian detainees were compounded by reports that an inmate at the Ashkelon prison was removed as a precaution after being examined by an Israeli doctor who suspected him of being infected with COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Israeli and Palestinian media reported that there were suspected cases of the virus in two other prisons: Ramleh prison in central Israel, and the Moscobiya detention centre in Jerusalem.

Israel’s prison authorities have imposed restrictions on Palestinian detainees, cancelling previously agreed rights, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said.

In a statement, PPS said the prison’s canteens stopped supplying prisoners with 140 products, including cleaning products which are a grave necessity in light of the novel coronavirus outbreak – particularly amid the crowded cells that already lack basic health standards.

It warned the level of overcrowding in Israeli prisons will be one of the major factors that could advance a coronavirus outbreak amongst Palestinian prisoners.

As an act of protest against the negligence of the Israeli prison administration, Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails rejected their meals today and announced a lock-down on Saturday and Sunday.

In addition,  the Israeli prison service has limited sick and injured prisoners’ visits to medical clinics by preventing and cancelling all their medical check-ups despite many suffering from high fever, a symptom of the coronavirus.

According to Palestinian authorities, there are approximately 1,200 prisoners in need of treatment who suffer from medical negligence. Some 700 urgently need surgery and 24 suffer from cancer.

Moreover, 90 per cent of prisoners have become ill while in prison due to poor conditions and negligence which may have exacerbated their health.

PPS reiterated its call for all international organisations, particularly the International Committee of the Red Cross, to be more attentive with following-up on prisoners and pressuring the Israeli Prison Services (IPS) to provide them with proper measures to prevent the spread of the virus.