Palestinian child jailed by Israel has coronavirus

People stand next to each other on the street holding signs

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem rally in support of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, 23 July.

Sharona Weiss ActiveStills

A Palestinian child imprisoned by Israel has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, amid an outbreak in Israeli detention centers.

Israel arrested the 15-year-old from his home in the Jalazone refugee camp, near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, on 23 July.

This is the first known case of a Palestinian child detainee contracting the virus.

His identity is being protected by human rights group Defense for Children International Palestine for privacy reasons.

Israeli forces transferred the child to the Shikma interrogation center in Ashkelon, southern Israel. They postponed his interrogation after he tested positive for the virus.

But despite being infected, Israeli authorities extended the boy’s detention for another eight days “since he has yet to be interrogated,” according to the human rights group.

Israel is currently holding the child at a police station in Acre in northern Israel.

“There is no way Israeli forces can justify the detention of a child currently infected with COVID-19,” Ayed Abu Eqtaish, a program director with the rights group, stated.

“Israeli authorities are recklessly endangering his health and well-being along with the health of other detainees.”

Israel is the only country in the world that systematically subjects children – and only Palestinian children – to military tribunals.

Abu Eqtaish reiterated DCI Palestine’s calls to release all Palestinian children from Israeli jails immediately.

Another prisoner tested positive for the coronavirus at Ofer military prison near Ramallah, where Israeli occupation forces also detain Palestinian children.

Naim Abu Turki, 38, was taken into quarantine along with five others who came into contact with him.

Abu Turki was being held in section 14 of the Ofer military prison.

Israeli occupation forces imprison Palestinian children in nearby section 13. Israel was holding 160 Palestinian children in its prisons in June.

The pandemic has not derailed Israel’s arrest of Palestinians, including civil society and cultural figures.

Attacks on cultural institutions

Israel raided cultural centers in occupied East Jerusalem last month and arrested their directors.

Israeli forces interrogated and detained for 12 hours Rania Elias, head of the Yabous Cultural Center, and Suhail Khoury, the head of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music.

While detaining the couple, Israeli occupation forces raided the Yabous Cultural Center and the music conservatory.

Israel has for years waged a violent campaign against cultural and civic institutions and individuals in occupied East Jerusalem, closing down many organizations as part of its effort to erase the city’s Palestinian character.

Prisoners of conscience

An Israeli military court also convicted a Palestinian educator for giving a lecture at Birzeit University.

Ahmad Qatamesh was given “a suspended sentence for four months in prison in the coming three years if he gives a lecture again in the mentioned period,” according to prisoners rights group Addameer.

Qatamesh was arrested and charged in December. An Israeli military court granted him conditional release on bail.

Instead of releasing him in January, he was issued with four months of administrative detention, without charge or trial, which was later renewed to an additional four months.

“Qatamesh is charged and on trial and at the same time is facing administrative detention,” Addameer stated.

Between 1992 and 1998, Qatamesh spent six years in Israeli administrative detention, the longest period a Palestinian had been jailed by Israeli occupation forces without charge or trial.

He was detained again in 2011 and held for another two and a half years without charge or trial.

In 2013, Amnesty International determined that Qatamesh was a “prisoner of conscience who is being detained solely for expressing nonviolent political beliefs.”

Meanwhile, on 2 August, an Israeli military court extended for 15 days the detention of Mahmoud Nawajaa – general coordinator of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

Nawajaa was seized from his home near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank during a night raid by Israeli soldiers on 30 July.

Amnesty International has also named Nawajaa a prisoner of conscience.




Israel seems to be determined to show its complete immunity to international law, or the rule of law, apart from its sadistic inhumanity, even at the time of a pandemic crisis.
Where is the world's outcry against these injustices, and where are the sanctions that one sees applied to other regimes for similar miscarriages of justice? Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, Syria, Venezuela to name a few countries that are targeted by the EU, US and UK, yet Israel is 'singled out' for no positive action.

Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.