Photo: Oren Ziv / ActiveStills
Demand the release of Palestinian political prisoners
The Covid-19 pandemic poses an unprecedented threat to the lives and safety of Palestinian political prisoners. Join us and Palestinian human rights organisations in calling for the immediate release of all Palestinian political prisoners to ensure their safety and uphold their rights.
“Now, more than ever, governments should release every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners and others detained simply for expressing critical or dissenting views.”
– Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, 25 March 2020
Palestinian detainees are subject to medical negligence, torture, physical violence and inhumane, unsanitary, overcrowded conditions within Israeli prisons. This makes them highly susceptible to coronavirus. At least four prisoners have already been exposed to the virus.
Despite the pandemic, prisoners have not been provided with hygiene and sanitation products, and have been further restricted from making purchases from the prison canteen.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Prison Service has used the current crisis as a pretext for stripping away more prisoners’ rights – barring visits from family and lawyers, and indefinitely postponing all trials in the military courts. Despite this, prisoners held in pre-trial detention continue to be imprisoned, and Palestinians continue to be arrested by Israeli forces and placed in quarantine within prisons.
Before Covid-19, Israel's detention of Palestinian political prisoners was unjust and illegal, violating numerous points of international law, even amounting to war crimes. On these points alone, the prisoners should be released in order to uphold their rights.
But the situation becomes even more dire during a global pandemic, layering an emergency health crisis on top of a systematic denial of rights.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is the only remaining entity allowed direct communication and visits to prisoners – but it is yet to provide any update on the conditions of prisoners, including those in quarantine.
The ICRC has an obligation to ensure the protection of Palestinian prisoners. Israel’s response to Covid-19 has been the continued negligence of prisoners’ health and the erosion of their remaining rights.
The only way to protect prisoners is by releasing them. Write to the ICRC to ask it to fulfil its obligation to Palestinian prisoners by demanding their immediate release.