Adalah, Addameer demand urgent preventive measures after Palestinian released from Israeli prison in occupied West Bank tests positive for coronavirus

Individual was held in transit wing of Ofer prison, meaning potential exists for spread of virus to other Israeli prisons and detention centers.

The Palestinian Commission for Detainees and Detainees Affairs reported yesterday, 1 April 2020, that a Palestinian prisoner released a day prior from Israel’s Ofer prison in the occupied West Bank has tested positive for coronavirus.


Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association sent an urgent letter this afternoon, 2 April 2020, to interim Israel Prison Service (IPS) Director Asher Va’aknin demanding immediate preventive measures to detect and prevent the spread of coronavirus at Ofer prison.


Ofer prison located between Jerusalem and Ramallah in the occupied West Bank (Photo: Christopher Michel/Wikimedia Commons)


The report from the Palestinian detainees commission is extremely worrisome and indicates the need for immediate measures to detect and isolate prisoners who had been in contact with the released individual who tested positive for coronavirus.


The coronavirus patient had been housed in Wing 14 of Ofer prison, which is used for prisoners and detainees in transit to other prisons or detention centers.


Adalah Attorney Myssana Morany and Addameer Director Attorney Sahar Francis stressed in the urgent letter that the presence of coronavirus in this particular wing endangers not just the health and lives of prisoners being held at Ofer but also at other Israeli prisons as well.


The patient had been in custody since 18 March 2020, almost two weeks before the virus was detected – and during its incubation period. There is there, a grave concern that he was infected in the Israeli prison.


Given this concern, Israeli prison authorities must take all measures to determine the source of the infection, and this must include testing all prisoners, guards, and other Israeli prison personnel for coronavirus.


Amongst other measures, Adalah and Addameer call on Israeli prison authorities to locate and isolate all prisoners and detainees who were in contact with the patient – or who were housed in the same transit wing with the patient – and provide them with any necessary medical care. The organizations also call on Israeli prison authorities to disinfect the wing in which the patient was housed, and to distribute disinfectant equipment and protective gear to prisoners and detainees.


Adalah Attorney Myssana Morany commented:


“Israeli authorities must take preventive and health safety measures to protect prisoners from coronavirus. We called for these measures days ago, but the situation is now dire after it was confirmed that a prisoner held by Israel has been infected. The lives of prisoners cannot be endangered. This is a violation of their basic human rights.”


Addameer Director Attorney Sahar Francis commented:


“Israel’s failure to conduct medical examinations and checks – especially those related to coronavirus – poses a direct risk to the health of the prisoners and is an expression of overt negligence and contempt for their lives. This is a serious matter and it must not be allowed to happen.”


CLICK HERE to read the letter [Hebrew]