Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says he is calling for an “international campaign” for the immediate release of a Palestinian terror convict who is suffering from both cancer and the novel coronavirus in an Israeli prison.
Kamal Abu Waer is the first Palestinian security prisoner in Israel with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
“[Abbas] informed the prisoner’s father that he had instructed the appropriate authorities to carry out an international campaign to pressure Israel to provide the appropriate treatment for him and his immediate release,” Abbas told Abu Waer’s father in a phone call, according to official PA news agency WAFA.
Abbas also told Abu Waer’s father that he hoped for “a speedy recovery for Abu Waer, as well as freedom for him and all our fearless prisoners.”
Abu Waer, 46, is serving multiple life sentences at Gilboa Prison for his role in several terror attacks against Israeli civilians during the Second Intifada, as a member of the Tanzim, an armed branch of the Palestinian Fatah movement. He was arrested in 2003.
Palestinian Liberation Organization Secretary-General Saeb Erekat had already demanded Abu Waer’s release on Sunday.
In recent months, his health has deteriorated, following a diagnosis of throat cancer, and he is currently hospitalized at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center.
The Israel Prisons Service says he was tested twice last week for COVID-19. On Wednesday the result was negative, but on Friday it was positive. All Abu Waer’s movements are now being traced and anyone who has been in contact with him will be required to quarantine for 14 days.
The Palestinian Authority has accused Israel of dragging its feet in implementing steps designed to prevent outbreaks in prisons. Despite the PA’s claims, Israel, unlike many other countries, has been remarkably successful in preventing an outbreak of COVID-19 in its prison system.
However, the strict limitations that the Israel Prisons Service has put in place have been criticized by some human rights advocates and convicts’ families as excessive.