Palestine

Hamas warns Israel against keeping Palestinians prisoners amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Palestinian Islamic resistance movement, Hamas, has warned against the dire consequences of keeping Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and detention facilities, slamming the Tel Aviv regime’s utter disregard for local and international calls to release them to protect their lives amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

Shaker Amara, a Hamas leader, said in a statement on Tuesday that the Israeli regime seeks to increase the sufferings of the Palestinian nation through more acts of aggression, arbitrary arrests and fear-mongering in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

He added, “Palestinian prisoners being held inside Israeli jails live in a tragic situation and are gripped by the fear of coronavirus spread inside prisons. The Israel Prison Service (IPS) ignores previous warnings and relevant instructions to prevent the new coronavirus spread, whilst the prisoners need exceptional measures to confront the virus.”

Amara then warned of catastrophe in case the new coronavirus hits Israeli prisons, saying, “There is a very great risk of virus spread within prisons. The infection of one detainee means an epidemic in the prison.”

“What complicates the matter further is that the Occupation (Israel) neglects the lives of thousands of defenseless prisoners in order to heap more misery on prisoners, and to add to their families’ anxiety and concerns,” the senior Hamas official pointed out.

He went on to say that the IPS puts Palestinian prisoners suspected to have contracted the virus in solitary cells without undertaking any health procedures, emphasizing that the Israeli regime is exploiting the world’s focus on the coronavirus pandemic to deprive Palestinians of the rights they have been fighting for over many years.

“The Occupation is racist and only holds the criminal mentality, which runs counter to international law and humanitarian principles. The regime continues to arrest Palestinian minors, youths and sick seniors irrespective of current circumstances and numerous calls for their release in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak,” Amara underlined.

On Monday, the secretary general of the Arab League appealed to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to secure the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails amid rising cases of infection with a new coronavirus in the occupied territories.

Ahmed Abul Gheit, in a letter addressed to Director General of ICRC Robert Mardini on Monday, said that Palestinians are subjected to dangerous conditions in Israeli jails, pointing to the absence of specialists and medical devices to assist patients besides the lack of adequate ventilation and severe shortage of cleaning materials and other essential goods.

He then expressed regret that Israeli authorities have released some settlers charged with criminal offenses, but have excluded Palestinian prisoners.

“Such a measure runs counter to human rights and the rules of the international law stipulated in the Fourth Geneva Convention, which call for the protection of prisoners at the time of epidemics. Many countries in the world have decided to release scores of prisoners in order to avoid the risk of an epidemic in their prisons,” Abul Gheit noted.

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