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Calls for Israel to protect prisoners against spread of COVID-19

GILBOA PRISON, Israel: A Palestinian prisoner sits behind glass speaking on a telephone to a young relative 05 March 2006 at the Gilboa prison, east of the northern Israeli town of Afula. Most of the 850 adult male prisoners in this prison are serving very long jail terms and some are serving life sentences for taking part in militant acts. AFP PHOTO/Hagai AHARON-ISRAEL OUT (Photo credit should read HAGAI AHARON/AFP via Getty Images)
A Palestinian prisoner sits behind glass speaking on a telephone to a young relative 05 March 2006 at the Gilboa prison, east of the northern Israeli town of Afula [HAGAI AHARON/AFP via Getty Images]

The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah) yesterday called on Israeli occupation authorities to take urgent action to stop the spread of COVID-19 among Palestinian prisoners.

In a letter, Adalah urged the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) to "act immediately to halt the spread of the virus and to protect Palestinian prisoners," pointing out that the number of infected prisoners is now reported to have risen to at least 87, as of Thursday.

On 2 November, Adalah said, an IPS spokeswoman revealed that 11 prisoners held in Gilboa prison and classified by Israel as "security prisoners" had tested positive for COVID-19. The next day, 54 more prisoners were confirmed infected, and then an additional four.

This figure, according to Adalah, constitutes approximately 19 per cent of the total population of 450 "security prisoners" in Gilboa prison.

Adalah noted that it had filed an urgent petition to the Israeli Supreme Court in May demanding that Israeli authorities take all necessary actions to protect the 450 "security prisoners" being held in the overcrowded Gilboa prison from a coronavirus outbreak.

READ: Palestinian prisoner ends hunger strike after 103 days

However, the court ruled that Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons have no right to social distancing protection against the COVID-19.

Adalah Attorney Myssana Morany called on the IPS to take immediate action to "ensure that the wing in which the infected prisoners are living, designated as a medical isolation bloc, allows for the appropriate conditions to provide sufficient protection and care for prisoners."

She also called on the IPS to "clarify the state of medical care provided to infected prisoners, including the availability of intensive care equipment, respirators and disinfectant materials."

The attorney also called for ensuring the availability of PPE to guarantee personal hygiene intended to slow or prevent the spread of the virus.

Families, she added, should "receive updates on diagnosis and medical conditions of prisoners, and prisoners can maintain telephone contact with families to provide updates on their medical status."

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CoronavirusIsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestine
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