Dozens of Palestinian detainees on hunger strike over Israel’s deliberate neglect amid pandemic


Dozens of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have gone on an open-ended hunger strike to denounce Tel Aviv’s deliberate neglecting of their peers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a report says.

The Israel Prison Service (IPS) intentionally endangers the lives of Palestinian inmates by removing cleaning products from prisons’ canteens and refusing to disinfect the prison cells or even conducting any tests on prisoners suspected of carrying the new coronavirus, said the Palestine Information Center in a report on Sunday.

The report cited 40-year-old Palestinian prisoner Fekri Mansour, who is behind bars in Shata Prison, as saying that Palestinian detainees are denied access to basic hygiene supplies and vital health care services.

A number of Israeli jailers and interrogators and even Palestinian prisoners have tested positive for the virus, he added.

Mansour, while warning of an imminent disaster, also said that Israeli jailers did not wear protective gloves and face masks or take any other protective measures while dealing with Palestinian prisoners, adding that prison cells are small and almost packed with inmates, making social distancing hardly feasible.

The Palestinian inmate further called on human rights organizations to pressure the Israeli regime to allow medical tests, provide the necessary cleaning supplies to Palestinian detainees and use other required measures to protect them from the disease.

The COVID-19 disease, caused by a new coronavirus, jumped from wildlife to people in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and has affected 209 countries and territories across the globe. It has so far infected more than 1,290, 970 people and killed over 70,650.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has already declared the outbreak a global pandemic.

Israel’s official figures show that as of Monday, 8,611 people have tested positive for the disease in the Occupied Territories and 56 others have died.

Late last month, Asra Media Office, a Palestinian prisoner rights advocacy group, said Tel Aviv was deliberately neglecting Palestinian prisoners and denying them minimum health service, warning that the regime’s jails “are jeopardizing the lives of prisoners.”

“To date, the occupation authority has not taken the necessary precautions to protect more than 5,500 Palestinian prisoners in its jails, including women, the elderly, children and sick prisoners,” Maghrabi, the head of the group, warned at the time.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry also said in March that Tel Aviv must “take full and direct responsibility for the life and health of the prisoners” as the disease rages around the world, including across the occupied Palestinian territories.

Calls have also been from other rights groups, including the Europal Forum, to put pressure on the Israeli regime to provide Palestinian prisoners with enough protection against the pandemic.

Palestinian and Arab activists also launched a media campaign late last month by using local radio stations and Twitter hashtags to help protest the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

According to the Palestine Information Center, over 60 official and private institutions from around the world, including societies, unions and media outlets have participated in the campaign so far.

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