Updates with Regard to the Rapidly Deteriorating Conditions of Palestinian Prisoners and Detainees in Light of the Continuing Spread of the Disease (COVID-19)

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23 March 2020

According to information received by Addameer from the Israeli Prison Services (IPS), three detainees under interrogations and Addameer legally represents were transferred to al-Ramleh Prison Clinic. Those prisoners are Ahmad Nassar, Qais Daraghmeh, and Ibrahim Awad. Also, the information received did not contain but the detainees whereabout, with any details about their detention conditions or wellbeing.

On 18 March 2020, Addameer was informed 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 at Petah Tikva. Addameer was then informed that the three mentioned detainees were transferred to Asqalan interrogation center, then to al-Jalameh interrogation center and then finally, to al-Ramleh Prison Clinic. The detainee and several others have now been placed in quarantine. Addameer was informed that the three mentioned detainees were transferred to Asqalan interrogation center, then to al-Jalameh interrogation center and then finally, to al-Ramleh Prison Clinic; yet their conditions are unknown to us. The IPS has not informed the detainees or their legal representatives if the detainees will be tested for COVID-19, or what precautions will be taken to ensure their safety and health. Addameer has send several letters to the IPS to seek information without answer.

Early March 2020, the IPS halted all family and lawyers’ visits for Palestinian prisoners, citing this measure as a COVID-19 precaution. Furthermore, detainees are not brought to court for their hearings, meaning that their legal representatives are barred from direct communication, and only allowed phone calls with them. There are currently a number of Palestinian detainees placed under interrogation, prohibited from lawyers’ and family visits, and only allowed phone or video calls during their court sessions. This comes also in light of the IPS’s continuous refusal to install landline phones inside prisons, preventing the prisoners from contacting their families. In this situation, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is the only entity permitted direct communication and visits to Palestinian prisoners.

Current detention conditions at Israeli occupation prisons:

Despite the lack of access to information about the detention conditions in all Israeli occupation prisons, though what organizations are receiving is showing the lack of care to Palestinian prisoners. Prisoners not yet given the minimum hygiene needs in such sensitive context. Furthermore, only until recently prisoners in some of the prisons such as, Rimon, Ofer and al-Naqab, were given only a few of cleaning materials and sanitizers which are not enough for the crowded numbers of prisoners in those prisons. Furthermore, those prisons are not being sterilized in a consistent manner, in fact, they were only cleaned and sterilized once or twice. Finally, prisoners and their families expressed their inability to deposit in the prisoners’ cantina’s account. The IPS did give any alternatives to the prisoners despite the fact that prisoners depend on the cantina in terms of buying all their daily needs and necessities including food. Finally, the IPS officers are not taking any precautions, as they still conduct the dailies searches and daily count of prisoners, which are in total five a day conducted by officers who are not wearing hazmat suit, protective cloves, or medical face masks. Leaving Palestinian prisoners in danger and exposure to the virus, especially that so far, none of the Palestinian prisoners were tested, not even their temperature was taken.