As a state of emergency continues in the occupied West Bank and Israel in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, concerns have been raised over the conditions of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, where many inmates are subjected to torture and a lack of medical care.
The fears of an outbreak in the prisons were compounded by reports that an inmate at the Ashkelon prison was removed as a precaution after being examined by an Israeli doctor who suspected him of being infected with COVID-19.
According to the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS), 19 out of 35 prisoners detained with the inmate in the same department were immediately isolated Friday. "We have official confirmation from the lawyers that the isolation has ended and the situation is stable there," Amani Sarahneh, a spokeswoman for the PPS, told Anadolu Agency on Monday. "However, we are still concerned about the situation in the prisons because of the lack of precaution measures there," she added.
At Jerusalem's al-Maskobiya prison, Israeli authorities have isolated 100 prisoners after an officer was suspected of contracting the virus. Authorities told a PPS lawyer that the quarantine has ended as the tests were negative, Sarahneh said.
According to Palestinian figures released last year, some 6,500 Palestinians continue to languish in Israeli detention facilities. Around 500 were detained under the so-called administrative detention laws. The figures also show that 700 detainees suffer from chronic diseases, which need urgent medical treatment and intensive follow-up, while 26 have cancer.
Israel's perpetual violations of Palestinians' basic rights in its prisons, including torture, repression and assaults have long been under the spotlight. Last month, Israel's detention authority decided to reduce rations of bread, water and meat for Palestinian prisoners, exposing once again the ongoing systematic violations of human rights in Israeli jails.
More than 200 Palestinians have lost their lives in Israeli prisons since 1967 as a result of torture, lack of medical care or from gunshot wounds, Palestinian human rights organizations reported in 2018. In a joint statement, the Palestinian Prisoners' Association, Prisoners of Conscience and the Human Rights Protection Organization said 216 Palestinians have lost their lives in Israeli prisons since 1967, according to AA. Seven were shot, 72 were tortured to death and 59 died due to lack of medical care. The statement highlighted the fact that Palestinians in Israeli prisoners were being subjected to "inhumane" treatment, including physical and psychological torture. Some 60% of the prisoners have suffered "brutal physical assaults." The statement also urged U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to launch a special committee to probe Palestinian deaths in Israeli prisons.