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Unsafe conditions in Negev prison raise alarm amid scorching heat wave

July 3, 2017 4:45 P.M. (Updated: July 3, 2017 8:37 P.M.)
(File)
GAZA (Ma’an) -- A Gaza-based prisoner's rights group has raised alarm over unsafe conditions for Palestinian prisoners held in Israel’s Ktziot prison, located in the Negev desert region, amid a scorching heat wave sweeping across the region.

The conditions in Israel’s Negev prisons are notoriously harsh, and prisoners have long complained of stifling heat, insects, and poor living conditions there, amid a deliberate policy of medical neglect at the hands of Israeli authorities and other forms of mistreatment.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies said in a statement Monday that prisoners have been prevented from leaving their cells since the beginning of the heat wave this week, and said that the prisoners feared for their healths.

The spokesman for the center, Riyad al-Ashqar, said that there it was very likely that prisoners would begin fainting and suffering from sunstrokes amid lack of adequate medical treatment and supplies at the remotely located prison.

Al-Ashqar said that during this type of weather, snakes, insects, and reptiles were able to easily reach prison’ cells and tents, which can endanger lives of detainees, highlighting that many so-called security prisoners were prevented from possessing items such as insect repellent.

He said that the temperature has reached 40 degrees Celsius over the past two days, further adding to the harsh conditions and repressive measures Palestinian political prisoners already face.

The spokesperson said that the atmosphere in the section designated for Hamas-affiliated prisoners has been particularly tense since Sunday, after Israeli prison authorities abruptly transferred Hamas prison leader Muntasir Shadid from Ktziot to Megiddo prison, which is located more than 200 kilometers away in northern Israel.

Unconfirmed reports initially said that following the transfer, prisoners inside Ktziot launched a hunger strike in protest. However according to al-Ashqar, Shadid started a hunger strike upon his arrival to Megiddo, where tens of other prisoners there joined him in solidarity.

Reports of deteriorating conditions from inside Ktziot came the same day that a number of Palestinian prisoners in Nafha prison -- located a short distance from Ktziot in the Negev -- were still suffering from difficult health conditions more than two months after suspending a 40-day hunger strike in protest of their mistreatment in Israeli jails.
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