On Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, UN Urges Protection of Detainees from Coronavirus

Over 5,000 Palestinians are currently detained in Israeli jails. (Photo: File)

In a letter to the Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s Executive Committee, Saeb Erekat, UN chief Antonio Guterres pointed out to ways of protecting Palestinian detainees, including reducing the number of prisoners in order to improve public health conditions, reducing overcrowding and maintaining restrictions on family visitation and healthcare visits.

Guterres also said that he asked the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolay Mladenov, to remain in contact with Israeli officials to ensure the protection of the Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

The UN Chief stressed the need to conduct more tests, and to isolate prisoners showing symptoms of the infection.

Guterres’s letter came in response to a letter sent by Erekat on March 30, that urged world leaders to pressure Israel, the occupying power, to protect Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and to release those who are highly vulnerable to the novel virus, including old people, women, and prisoners with underlying conditions.

The Palestinian Commission for Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs reported on April 1 that Palestinian prisoner Nour Eddin Sarsour, released the day before from Israel’s Ofer prison, has tested positive for coronavirus.

The report from the Palestinian detainees’ commission is extremely worrisome and indicates the need for immediate measures to detect and isolate prisoners who had been in contact with the released individual who tested positive for coronavirus, the rights organization said in a press statement.

On April 3, ten Palestinian political prisoners at Ofer Detention Centre, near Ramallah, launched an open-ended hunger strike to protest against the ongoing solitary confinement of two detainees, as well as against Israel’s failure to protect them against the coronavirus.

The Prisoners Commission lambasted the Israel Prison Services for not conducting tests on the prisoners before their release, holding it responsible for the life and health of the prisoners who were in contact with Sarsour before his release.

Over 5,000 Palestinians, including numerous women and children, are currently detained in Israeli prisons.

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

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