Prisoners riot in Iran; Netanyahu goes into self-quarantine

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People wearing protective clothings, masks and gloves, attend the funeral of a victim who died after being infected with the new coronavirus, at a cemetery just outside Tehran, Iran, Monday, March 30, 2020.The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

AMMAN – Prisoners in southern Iran broke cameras and caused other damage during a riot, state media reported Monday, the latest in a series of violent prison disturbances in the country, which is battling the most severe coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East.

Israel meanwhile announced that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will enter self-quarantine after an aide tested positive for the virus. His office says the 70-year-old leader has undergone a test and will remain in quarantine until he receives results or is cleared by the Health Ministry and his personal doctor. His close advisers are also isolating.

More than 4,300 Israelis have been infected with the new virus and 15 have died.

Iran had temporarily released around 100,000 prisoners as part of measures taken to contain the pandemic, leaving an estimated 50,000 people behind bars, including violent offenders and so-called “security cases,” often dual nationals and others with Western ties.

Families of detainees and Western nations say Iran is holding those prisoners for political reasons or to use them as bargaining chips in negotiations.

The state-run IRNA news agency quoted Gov. Enayatollah Rahimi of the southern Fars province as saying a riot broke out at Adel Abad Prison, the main lockup in the city of Shiraz. Rahimi said prisoners broke cameras and caused other damage in two sections housing violent criminals. No one was wounded and no one escaped.

IRNA reported Friday that 70 inmates had escaped Saqqez Prison in Iran’s western Kurdistan province. Prisoners beat guards during the chaos, a local prosecutor said. Several inmates later returned on their own to the prison.

Since the beginning of the year, riots have broken out in prisons in Aligudarz, Hamedan and Tabriz as well, with some prisoners escaping, IRNA reported.