According to a report compiled by the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), Israeli prison services have used COVID-19 restrictions as a tool against Palestinian inmates. The report claims that many inmates have reported deliberate medical negligence and no serious measures to stem the spread of the pandemic in jails.
The PPS report suggests that the Israeli authorities are trying to convert these actions from temporary to permanent, and that all of these measures are violations of prisoners’ rights. By November 2020, more than 100 COVID-19 cases were reported among prisoners, with the report quoting ex-prisoners claiming that Israeli prison guards were spitting on roofs and public places.
The report claims that Israeli authorities detain more than six inmates in each cell in the jails, leading to a higher risk of spread of COVID-19 among them, especially as they are in contact with the jailers who are in contact with the outside. The vaccination process also faced many challenges due to Israeli officials who publicly refused to give the vaccine to prisoners, resulting in double isolation against the inmates.
The PPS report further added that dozens of Palestinians have been detained in centers that do not meet the minimum conditions of human life. Detainees were kept in such humid cells, where there is no scope to get sunlight or air, creating a fertile ground for the spread of diseases. The cells also were devoid of cleaning materials, and detainees were denied facility to bath or to get clothes.
The report suggests that Palestinians in the occupied territories suffered badly during the pandemic, with more than 66,000 workers stopped working in 2020 and the number of the workforces dropped from 951,000 to a mere 884. Palestinian territories have reported 579,744 COVID-19 cases with 5,316 deaths so far, according to worldmeters.info.
The PPS report highlights the challenges faced by Palestinian inmates during the pandemic, and how Israeli prison services used COVID-19 restrictions against them.