Israel must release all Palestinian child detainees amid COVID-19 pandemic

Demand that Israeli authorities take immediate action to release all Palestinian child detainees in Israeli prisons and detention centers due to the increasing vulnerability created due to the rapid global spread of the COVID-19 virus and to safeguard their right to life, survival, development, and health in accordance with international law.

Palestinian children imprisoned by Israeli authorities live in close proximity to each other, often in compromised sanitary conditions, with limited access to resources to maintain minimum hygiene routines, according to documentation collected by DCIP.

COVID-19’s impact is exacerbated by these living conditions making Palestinian children in Israeli prisons and detention centers increasingly vulnerable.

There is no way Israeli prison authorities can ensure the health and well-being of Palestinian child detainees as long as they continue to be in a custodial detention setting.

In a headcount at the end of December 2019, 186 Palestinian children were detained in Israeli prisons, according to the latest figures released by the Israel Prison Service.

While international law demands that children only be detained as a measure of last resort, custodial pre-trial detention is the norm for Palestinian children detained by Israeli forces from the occupied West Bank.

COVID-19 in Israeli prisons and detention facilities 

Four Palestinian prisoners detained at Israel’s Megiddo prison, located inside Israel northwest of the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, were placed in isolation after they were in contact with a COVID-19 positive Israeli officer, according to Ha’aretz.

Megiddo prison is one of several detention facilities located inside Israel where Palestinian child “security prisoners” are held.

As of March 19, 573 Israelis had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, according to Ha’aretz.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported, as of March 19, there were 47 confirmed cases in the West Bank, mostly in Bethlehem and two nearby towns. There were no reported cases in the Gaza Strip, OCHA reported. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh declared a state of emergency across the Occupied Palestinian Territory on March 5 in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19.

As of March 18, worldwide there are 191,127 cases of COVID-19, and 7,807 fatalities, according to the World Health Organization

  

Release all Palestinian child detainees amid COVID-19 pandemic

We, the undersigned, demand Israeli authorities take immediate action to release all Palestinian child detainees in Israeli prisons due to the rapid global spread of the COVID-19 virus.

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Defense for Children International - Palestine (DCIP) is a local, independent Palestinian human rights organization committed to securing a just and viable future for Palestinian children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.