Noureddine Sarsour was not stunned when his take a look at for COVID-19 got here again optimistic. He acquired the information a day after his launch from an Israeli jail on March 31.
Throughout his two-week detention at Israel’s Ofer jail within the occupied West Financial institution – on expenses of throwing stones and firebombs at Israeli forces – the 19-year-old stated he underwent two blood exams and a throat swab. A day later, the fees in opposition to him have been dropped and he was launched, though he was not knowledgeable of the take a look at outcomes.
“Often, earlier than the prisoner is launched from Israeli prisons, he ought to meet the jail supervisor,” Sarsour, who in 2017 has beforehand been detained and launched with out cost, advised Al Jazeera from isolation in a lodge in Ramallah.
“After I went to see him, the supervisor was carrying an anti-static uniform with a face masks and spoke to me whereas standing about three metres away. At that second, I felt there was one thing unsuitable,” he stated.
Sarsour’s suspicion that he had been contaminated with the brand new coronavirus elevated when the guards who escorted him to the automotive as he was leaving saved their distance.
“I actually opened the automotive door and closed it behind. They did not strategy me till I used to be dropped close to a checkpoint,” he stated.
Upon his arrival on the checkpoint, he was transferred by Palestinian medical crews to a Ramallah hospital and examined for coronavirus. The take a look at returned optimistic the following day, and within the following days, he started displaying gentle signs, together with a headache, fever and throat ache.
“My huge worry is concerning the prisoners in Ofer jail. I combined with about 30 to 70 prisoners whereas staying in Ofer jail, because the Israeli jail service retains transferring new prisoners between sections.”
He stated the authorities didn’t take particular precautions to forestall an infection contained in the jail, reminiscent of implementing social distancing. Based on Sarsour, the prisoners requested the Israeli jail service a number of instances to put new prisoners in a 14-day quarantine, earlier than permitting them to combine with different prisoners.
“All these calls went unheard,” Sarsour stated.
Within the days after his launch, among the inmates at Ofer held an indication to name for testing for the inmates who had been in touch with Sarsour. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society stated about 9 prisoners who have been recognized to have combined with Sarsour have been positioned in quarantine.
The Israeli Jail Service (IPS) stated in a press release on April 2 that “each new detainee” was held individually for 14 days earlier than being absorbed into a daily a part of the jail.
Thaer Shretieh, head of the media unit for the Fee of Detainees and Ex-detainees’ Affairs, advised Al Jazeera the fee despatched a letter to the IPS calling for an investigation into Sarsour’s case. The letter additionally referred to as on the jail service to implement preventive measures, particularly with prisoners who had been in latest contact with Sarsour, he added.
“The Israeli facet completely denied that the prisoner was contaminated inside their prisons. Regardless of that, Israel has confirmed that three guards at Ofer jail and al-Ramleh jail examined optimistic for coronavirus,” Shretieh stated.
The IPS stated on March 31 that jail guards at Ofer who had examined optimistic for COVID-19 have been positioned into isolation and investigations confirmed that they had not been in direct contact with prisoners.
As of April 16, Israel has reported greater than 12,000 instances of coronavirus infections and 143 deaths linked to it. The Palestinian Authority has confirmed a complete of 295 instances throughout the West Financial institution and Gaza, of whom two folks have died.
The detainees’ fee has referred to as on the Crimson Cross and the WHO to intervene to launch prisoners who could also be extra inclined to the coronavirus. Based on the fee, there are 5,000 Palestinians at present held in Israeli prisons, together with 700 who’re sick.
On April 17, Palestinians mark Prisoners Day to remind the general public of the plight of these 1000’s of Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli army jails.
Yehia Masawdeh, spokesman for the Worldwide Committee of the Crimson Cross in Jerusalem and the West Financial institution, advised Al Jazeera that “personal conferences” are carried out weekly with the Israeli authorities to debate the situations of prisons. “We made positive that the contaminated Israeli guards have been put in quarantine,” he stated.
“We urge the Israeli authorities to decide to the prevention and sterilisation requirements, in accordance with worldwide humanitarian legislation,” he added.
Masawdeh stated the ICRC has stopped household visits, in addition to visits by legal professionals and ICRC delegates to prisons, and is holding weekly conferences with Israeli authorities to examine jail situations via visits by a global physician.
“Now we have acquired many calls for for the discharge of prisoners, and the ICRC, in flip, has demanded the Israeli authorities to launch prisoners over the age of 65 along with these affected by continual illnesses.”
On April 16 the IPS introduced it had begun a programme of coronavirus testing for prisoners and employees.
“The testing course of started on April 14 and can initially be carried out by 100 prisoners and employees serving within the IPS Medical Heart (ROSH),” the assertion stated.
“Additional, and in response to the speed of issuance of take a look at kits from the Ministry of Well being, the pattern testing process will proceed for your complete IPS inhabitants”, it stated.
‘My son is dying slowly’
For the family members of probably the most weak Palestinian prisoners at present held in Israeli jails, the outbreak has been agonising. Sabbah al-Jerjawi’s son Iyad is at present serving a 9-year sentence for a number of expenses in Gilboa Jail in northern Israel. Iyad is 34 years previous and was identified with a cancerous mind tumour two months in the past.
Iyad, initially from Khan Younis within the southern Gaza Strip, was detained in June 2011 on the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing, on his means again from receiving medical therapy in Israel.
“My life has turned the wrong way up two months in the past, after the medical check-ups of my son, Iyad, confirmed that he suffers from a mind most cancers,” 58-year previous Sabbah stated. “Since then, we referred to as all our bodies and the Crimson Cross to intervene to launch my son and to let him obtain the right therapy outdoors the jail, however in useless. My son is dying slowly in jail.”
“For the reason that outbreak of coronavirus, we’re not sleeping attributable to our nervousness and worry. The situations of prisoners in Israeli prisons are very deteriorated. They do not have the immunity to confront this pandemic that spreads the world over,” she added.
“Solely 60 days are remaining for the discharge of my son, however my pleasure became horror, as a result of daily that passes with out intervention will increase the danger of a coronavirus outbreak inside Israeli prisons.”