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Israel refuses to distribute extra blankets to Palestinian prisoners

Dec. 15, 2013 6:09 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 16, 2013 10:28 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli prison administration refused a request from the Palestinian Authority to allow extra blankets and clothes for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails during the recent storm, the PA prisoners' affairs minister said on Sunday.

Issa Qaraqe told Ma'an that despite coordination between the PA, the Red Cross, and the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Israeli administration of Ofer prison refused to allow hundreds of blankets prepared by the PA to be distributed to inmates.

Qaraqe said the "the Israeli prison administration did not provide prisoners with the basic requirements to protect them from the extreme cold and it is responsible for their lives during these conditions."

"Israeli jails do not provide for the basic needs of prisoners, and they lack the sufficient number of blankets, clothes, or heating sources," he added.

He said that rainwater managed to enter a number of cells and detention centers where dozens of Palestinian prisoners reside, and that some detainees who are suffering from illnesses related to extreme cold are in need of medical check-ups.

Qaraqe also called for international medical committees to visit Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

The Palestinian Center for Prisoners' Studies said that female prisoners also suffered throughout the storm as their rooms had many leaks, and that they were not given any extra blankets or hot water despite extremely cold conditions.

5,200 Palestinians were being held in Israeli jails as of Oct. 2013, according to the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs. Another 1,280 are in Israeli prisons for being inside Israel without permits.

Since 1967, more than 650,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel, representing 20 percent of the total population and 40 percent of all males in the occupied territories.

Under international law, it is illegal to transfer prisoners outside of the occupied territory in which they are detained, and the families of Palestinian prisoners' face many obstacles in obtaining permits to see their imprisoned relatives.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
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