Saving Palestinian prisoners’ lives requires releasing the elderly and sick

Palestinians gather for a demonstration to demand coronavirus protection for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, Gaza City, Gaza, March 19, 2020. (photo: Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
As Palestinians commemorate Prisoners’ Day on April 17, the biggest demand appears to be how to safeguard prisoners from the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

By Daoud Kuttab | Al-Monitor  | Apr 17, 2020

‘The White House and State Department have called for the release of US citizens around the world due to the coronavirus, but the consular officials in Jerusalem have not followed up on these guidelines from Washington,’
— Hind Shraydeh, American Palestinian researcher

Hind Shraydeh is very worried about her husband. Ubai Aboudi, an American-Palestinian researcher and director of the Ramallah-based nongovernmental organization Bisan Center for Research and Development, was arrested by Israeli forces at his house in Jerusalem’s Kufr Aqab neighborhood on Nov. 13, 2019. Aboudi was initially held in administrative detention at the Ofer detention center, and Amnesty International and Nobel Prize scientists around the world circulated a petition calling for his release.

Shraydeh told Al-Monitor her husband had breathing problems before his imprisonment and expressed worry about the potential spread of the coronavirus in the overcrowded Israeli detention centers. “Ubai is held in unit 22 at the Ofer detention center near Beitunia, where eight people are kept in a small room within an unhealthy prison environment and where at least one coronavirus case has been [confirmed].”

Shraydeh said she is concerned about the dangers Palestinian prisoners face. “Two Israeli prison guards have the virus, and a Palestinian prisoner released from Ofer has also tested positive. Yet there is little being done to release vulnerable prisoners or even to keep prisoners in touch with their families.”

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