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Israel using coronavirus outbreak to further abuse Palestinian inmates: Health minister

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this file picture, Palestinian prisoners are seen at the courtyard in Megido Prison in the northern part of the Israeli-occupied territories. (Photo by Getty Images)

Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaila says Israeli authorities refuse to provide adequate health care services to Palestinian prisoners, stressing that the regime is using the coronavirus pandemic to suppress the inmates.

Kaila pointed to Israel's systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners in a flagrant violation of all international principles and regulations, stating that the number of Palestinian detainees who have contracted coronavirus in Israeli prisons stands at more than 300.

She went on to say that most of Palestinian prisoners diagnosed with the coronavirus infection are being held at Gilboa Prison in the northern Jordan Valley. The figure is followed by a high number of infected detainees at Ktzi'ot and Rimon Prisons as well.

The Palestinian health minister highlighted that Israel intends to use coronavirus as a tool of suppression and abuse against Palestinian prisoners, without any concern over the virus outbreak in detention centers as their unhygienic conditions act as a catalyst for the spread of the disease.

Kaila then voiced serious concerns over the deteriorating situation of a number of Palestinian prisoners infected with COVID-19, calling on the World Health Organization and the International Committee of the Red Cross to arrange a visit with them to check on their health conditions.

The Palestinian minister also stressed the need for the formation of an impartial international committee to monitor the condition of Palestinian inmates inside Israeli prisons, and supervise their vaccination against coronavirus.

More than 7,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently being held in some 17 Israeli jails, with dozens of them serving multiple life sentences.

Over 500 detainees are under Israel’s so-called policy of administrative detention in various Israeli prisons with some prisoners being held in that condition for up to 11 years without any charges.

The so-called Israeli administrative detention is a form of imprisonment without trial or charge that allows the Israeli authorities to incarcerate Palestinians for up to six months, which could be extended for an infinite number of times.

Palestinian detainees have continuously resorted to open-ended hunger strikes to express their outrage at the detentions.

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