The Palestinian ruling Fatah faction and the Palestinian Commission and Ex-Detainees Affairs on Saturday issued an urgent appeal for the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel in light of the coronavirus outbreak in Israel and Palestinian Authority-controlled areas.
In a joint statement, Fatah and the commission called on the international community and human rights organizations to pressure Israel to release the Palestinian prisoners, particularly those suffering from chronic diseases and the elderly.
The statement warned of a “real catastrophe” in Israeli prisons because of the high number of people diagnosed with the coronavirus in Israel.
Last week Israel and the PA denied rumors that four Palestinian prisoners held in Megiddo Prison had tested positive for the virus.
The statement urged the international community “not to allow itself to become a witness to the new Israeli weapon: the coronavirus.”
Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the PA’s General Authority of Civil Affairs and member of the Fatah Central Committee, said he has asked Israel to take the necessary measures to protect Palestinian prisoners from the spread of the virus. “We informed them [Israeli authorities] of the willingness of the PA to provide all the medical needs necessary to protect them,” he said on Twitter. “May God protect our people and homeland.”
Fatah also called for the release of its members and other prisoners held in Hamas prisons in the Gaza Strip because of the outbreak of the virus. No cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the Gaza Strip as of press time.
Osama Qawassmeh, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, said it was time for his movement and Hamas to end their differences so as to pave the way for national reconciliation in light of the outbreak. The release of Fatah members held by Hamas would contribute to ending divisions among Palestinians, he added.