Israeli guards have been criticised for disembarking from a prison bus during a rocket attack launched from the Gaza Strip and leaving the chained prisoners to fend for themselves.
After the reported rocket attack, the Israel Prisons Service said the guards were following protocol for such situations and that there were no injuries or escape attempts.
The incident took place on 12th November during a two-day attack on Israel by Palestinian resistance fighters, according to local media.
As the first rockets were fired at around 6.30 am, a bus was leaving Shikma Prison in the southern city of Ashkelon to take prisoners to court hearings.
An alert sounded and the guards reportedly disembarked the bus to take cover while leaving the chained prisoners to fend for themselves inside the vehicle.
One unnamed prisoner on the bus told local media: “They left us like ducks in a shooting gallery. The guards just abandoned us. As we are prisoners, perhaps they thought we have fewer rights than them.”
He added that the other prisoners were outraged by the incident.
However, the Israel Prisons Service said in a statement: “During a siren alert, the guards should stop the vehicle under or as near as possible to cover or at the roadside.
“The prisoners and detainees and instructed to put their hands on their heads and bend forwards, crouching down as much as the vehicle allows.
“Afterwards, the accompanying staff should leave the vehicle and secure it.”
“As far as we know, last week there was no departure from the protocol.”
During the 48-hour conflict, prison staff reported chaperoned 174 prisoners on various trips outside the penitentiary.
The conflict started after the Israel Defence Forces killed Baha Abu al-Ata, a leader of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine.
According to local media, the group’s armed wing the Al-Quds Brigades fired around 450 mortar shells and rockets into Israel which responded with various strikes in Gaza.
Reports said that dozens of Israelis were injured while the Hamas-run Health Ministry stated that 34 Palestinians were killed and 109 were injured in the retaliatory attacks.
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