SHAFAQNA- Press TV:The Arab League has called on international human rights organizations and other relevant bodies to urge Israeli authorities to release Palestinian from its jails amidst rising cases of infection with a new coronavirus in the occupied territories.
Assistant Secretary-General of the 22-member regional organization, Said Abu Ali, highlighted in a press statement that protection of prisoners is an imperative, especially in times of pandemics such as the current coronavirus crisis across the globe.
He also called on the international community to pressure Israeli authorities for the release of around 5,000 Palestinian prisoners, including hundreds of elderly inmates with health issues, 180 juveniles and 43 women before the number of coronavirus infections in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian lands spirals out of control. Abu Ali also called for the effective protection and proper safety measures for thousands of Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails.
Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention centers have threatened to go on an open-ended hunger strike in protest at a ban on meeting attorneys, lack of protective measures by guards during searches in their cells, and denial of medical protection gear in the wake of soaring cases of infection with the vitus called COVID-19.
An unnamed source close to Palestinian prisoners told the Israeli English-language Haaretz newspaper that prisoners affiliated with the Islamic resistance movement, Hamas, returned their breakfast and lunch servings on Thursday, while those affiliated with Fatah returned some meals during the weekend. They plan to launch a full hunger strike at the beginning of next month.
Prisoners are enclosed in their cells,” the source said, adding that Israeli wardens “who deliver food [to Palestinian prisoners] are walking around, handing it out with no gloves or masks….” Palestinian prisoners have not been tested for the coronavirus, as Israeli Health Ministry regulations in place call for a test only in cases where there exist both exposure to a confirmed patient and symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever, cough, shortness of breath.
Meanwhile, a high-ranking member of Hamas said Israeli authorities were denying Palestinian prisoners medical protection gear. Wasfi Kabha said the Israel Prison Service has ordered the inmates to use their socks in place of masks in a blatant disregard for their safety and lives. “Given the overcrowding in Israeli detention centers and the absence of cleaning products at the prison canteens, Palestinian detainees are now more vulnerable in light of the coronavirus outbreak,” he commented.