Today, 23 March 2020, the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) sent two letters, one to the International Committee of the Red Cross and another to the diplomatic community in Palestine. The letters were urgent appeals address to them with regard to the rapidly deteriorating conditions of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli jails in light of the continuing spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Palestinian human rights organizations urgently requested their intervention in pursing the needed communication to ensure the health and safety of Palestinian prisoners held captive, particularly as many are minors, chronically ill, vulnerable populations, or held under administrative detention, in contravention of international law.
Addameer association was informed last week that a Palestinian detainee under interrogation may have been exposed to COVID-19 transmitted by contact with an Israeli Security Agency interrogator who tested positive for the coronavirus. The detainee and several others have now been placed in quarantine; yet their conditions are unknown to us.
Our growing concern for Palestinian prisoners and detainees during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic grows out of the systematic and routine medical negligence inside Israeli detention and interrogation centers. In 2019, a total of five Palestinian prisoners died, three of them as a result of deliberate medical negligence, while hundreds suffer from chronic diseases that go untreated. Furthermore, the dismal conditions, including overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and poor nutrition, make the prisons dangerous breeding grounds for COVID-19.
The letters’ main demand was to ensure the safety of Palestinian detainees and prisoners, the letters also included a call to demand their release to ensure their safety from the rapidly spreading pandemic, particularly those who are more susceptible to the disease, such as children, elderly, the sick, and injured.
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