Rights Groups Call for Immediate Preventive Measures in Israeli Prisons

Israeli is using coronavirus as pretext to crack down on Palestinian prisoners. (Photo: via Twitter)

The Haifa-based Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel –  and the Ramallah-based Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association sent an urgent letter to the interim Israel Prison Service (IPS) Director Asher Va’aknin demanding immediate preventive measures to detect and prevent the spread of coronavirus at Ofer prison.

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 two rights organizations said in a joint press statement.

Sarsour had been housed in Wing 14 of Ofer prison, which is used for prisoners and detainees in transit to other prisons or detention centers. He had been in custody since March 18, almost two weeks before the virus was detected – and during its incubation period. There is a grave concern that he was infected in the Israeli prison.

Given this concern, Israeli prison authorities must take all measures to determine the source of the infection, and this must include testing all prisoners, guards, and other Israeli prison personnel for coronavirus.

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.

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

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