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Arab League calls for release of Palestinian prisoners during pandemic

December 11, 2020 at 2:42 pm

Protesters hold banners in support of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails in Ramallah, West Bank on 20 October 2020 [İssam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

The League of Arab States again called for the need to exert pressure on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners, especially the elderly, the sick, and people with weak immunity, in line with the rules of international humanitarian law stipulated in the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of prisoners’ rights in times of epidemics.

This came in a statement issued yesterday on the occasion of International Human Rights Day.

Ambassador Haifa Abu Ghazaleh, assistant secretary-general and head of the Social Affairs Department at the Arab League, said the Arab Charter on Human Rights recognised, in Article 39, the right of every society member “to enjoy the highest attainable level of physical and mental health and to indiscriminately have access to free basic health care services”.

Abu Ghazaleh emphasised that these are the principles of genuine rights established by the sustainable development goals and practical strategies, initiatives and action plans adopted under the umbrella of the League of Arab States, most notably the Arab Strategy for the Development of Primary Health Care and Family Medicine adopted in March 2011, the Arab Strategy for Health and Environment (2017-2030), the Multi-sectoral Arab Strategic Plan on Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health (2019-2030) and the Arab Strategy on Access to Public Health Services in the Context of Refugees and Displacement in the Arab Region adopted in February 2019, in addition to the initiative of the League of Arab States General Secretariat on a health-friendly budget, which is under development in the form of an Arab advisory strategy.

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The assistant secretary-general explained that the concept of health recovery is at the heart of the universal right to life, the most supreme rights, praising the measures taken by Arab countries to prevent the spread of coronavirus since the pandemic began in March his year.

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.