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Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails test positive for Covid-19

Palestinians have been protesting for prisoners' rights [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 September, 2020

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Two Palestinian prisoners in Ofer were tested positive with the coronavirus according to the Palestinian Prisoner Society.

Two Palestinian prisoners in one of Israel's most notorious jails were tested positive with the coronavirus, the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) said on Sunday.

Two Palestinians in Ofer prison, identified as Hassan Mohammed Shahadeh from Bethlehem and Saleem Mohammed Idrees from Hebron, tested positive for Covid-19, according to the rights' group.

They were transferred by the Israeli Prison Services (IPS) to Section 18, which is a designated quarantine area.

Seventeen cases have been recorded among Palestinian prisoners since the outbreak of the epidemic, including two released whose infections were discovered a day after their release.

Ofer prison is located in the occupied West Bank near Ramallah and is renowned for its various human rights abuses against Palestinian prisoners – including minors.

In July Israel's top court rejected a petition demanding protection for Palestinian prisoners at Gilboa prison from the threat of the coronavirus - such as social distancing - despite an outbreak of the disease there.

The Supreme Court justified its ruling by saying Palestinians held in prison are no different than family members or flatmates living in the same home.

Israel's prisoner population currently includes around 5,700 Palestinians.

This includes 200 children, 44 women, five members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and 27 journalists. 

Reports suggest 470 Palestinian prisoners are held in "administrative detention" without charge or trial.

Under the administrative detention order, Israel detains Palestinians for six months at a time, which can be extended indefinitely.

Israel has occupied the West Bank illegally since 1967 and is accused of various abuses against Palestinian civilians.

In April, the UN Human Rights Council and the Red Cross urged Israel to release vulnerable prisoners, saying that they were in danger of contracting coronavirus, although there was no Israeli response.

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