Palestinian PM: Israel must ‘immediately release’ prisoners due to coronavirus pandemic

Mohammad Shtayyeh issued a statement calling on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners, many of whom are incarcerated for terror-related crimes.

By World Israel News Staff

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh issued a statement on Saturday claiming that the Palestinian Authority would “send a message to the International Committee of the Red Cross” asking it to secure the release of security prisoners held in Israeli facilities.

Palestinians who commit crimes in areas under Israeli jurisdiction, including terror offenses such as stabbings, car-rammings, and shootings, serve their sentences in Israeli prisons.

Shtayyeh issued the statement hours before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outlined the nation’s new guidelines for addressing the coronavirus pandemic.

Shtayyeh framed his request regarding the release of Palestinian prisoners as somehow connected to this pubic health crisis, claiming that he would ask the ICRC to “ensure that Israel Prisoner Service maintains public safety measures to protect our prisoners,” the Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

Around 6,400 Palestinians suspected of having the virus are self-quarantined in the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria, according to PA spokesman Ibrahim Milhem, the Jerusalem Post reported.

On Saturday, Netanyahu announced that Israeli restaurants and entertainment establishments will be shuttered to thwart the spread of the coronavirus, joining schools and universities on the list of closed entities. Banks, gas stations, and supermarkets remain open for business.

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“Those who don’t need to go work or be in a certain place, don’t go,” Netanyahu said in a nationally televised live address Saturday.

As of Saturday, Israel reported 193 cases of the virus.