RAMALLAH, Monday, September 13, 2021 (WAFA) - Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh today called on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations to follow up on the conditions of the Palestinian prisoners held in Israel to make sure that they are not subjected to torture and abuse, and to compel Israel to implement the Third Geneva Convention relating to the prisoners, while holding the Israeli occupation authorities fully responsible for their lives.
The Prime Minister made this appeal at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting held in Ramallah and in light of Israel’s capture of four of the six Palestinian prisoners who were able to liberate themselves from Gilboa prison in northern Israel last week as reports emerged that they were severely beaten that required hospitalization for at least one of them, and the harsh retaliatory measures taken by the Israel Prison Services (IPS) against all Palestinian freedom fighters incarcerated by Israel following the escape of the six prisoners.
Shtayyeh also denounced Israel’s talk about the "economy-for-security" plan for the Gaza Strip, stressing that the issue here is political, not economic.
"The Gaza problem is a political one and it is the same problem facing all the Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem," he said. "What is required here is a serious and real political process based on international legitimacy and international law that will end the occupation, lift the siege off the Gaza Strip, and stop the aggression against all the Palestinian territories, and then the process for the reconstruction (of Gaza) becomes possible and permanent," he said.
Regarding the Qatari grant for the Gaza Strip, the Prime Minister explained that it was divided into three parts: the first, worth $10 million will go to purchasing fuel for the Gaza power station through the United Nations, the second, also worth $10 million, to be distributed through the United Nations’ World Food Program for a period of four months, and the third part of the grant also worth $10 million to be paid in the form of salaries to employees in Gaza.
Shtayyeh, nevertheless, explained that all the Palestinian banks have refused to deal with the third part of the grant for fear of legal action being taken against them if they transfer money to unverified Gaza employees. He stressed that he welcomes any effort to resolve this matter.
Prime Minister Shtayyeh also talked about the epidemiological situation in Palestine and the recent sharp surge in COVID-19 cases and said that the decision to ban gatherings in weddings or mourning houses will go into effect as of today in an effort to curtail the rise in infections, adding that a health protocol will be later announced regulating the work of the public sector in a manner that ensures a reduction in the rates of infection resulting from the coronavirus mutants.
He called on everyone who has not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 to get one especially since most of the cases that entered the intensive care units are for people who did not receive the vaccine.
"So that we do not find ourselves forced to impose strict restrictions, I call upon you (the public) to wear masks, maintain physical distancing, and get vaccinated in order to reach community immunity, and that mosques, universities, schools and public places should be strict in implementing the health rules," he said, indicating that the security services will make sure these rules are enforced.