The Israeli Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch on Wednesday announced that Israel will start revoking the Palestinian prisoners’ privileges.
The Israeli Channel 10 television quoted Aharonovitch as saying that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) will bar the prisoners from enrolling in university studies. Israel holds some 6,700 Palestinian prisoners in 23 jails and detention camps.
He added that the IPS will block the cellular reception in jails to prevent Hamas prisoners from communicating with the movement’s prisoners in other Israeli jails and with the Hamas leaders in Gaza Strip.
The minister added that the prisoners will not have the right to conjugal visits or vacations.
According to the minister, the measures are part of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to take away prisoners’ privileges in order to pressure Hamas into releasing kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is still held in Hamas captivity since June 2006.
Netanyahu’s decision came in response to Hamas’ refusal to let the International Committee of the Red Cross International Red Cross (ICRC) visit Shalit.
Hamas said the ICRC should also consider the suffering of 7,000 prisoners in Israeli jails.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Prisoners Club (Nadi Al-Asir) said it announced “the state of emergency in Palestinian territories to face the Israeli suppressive measures.”
The club said it is in contact with the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian government, Palestinian factions, Palestinian and international human rights organizations “stop the fierce campaign against the prisoners.”
Since December 2009, Egypt, Germany and France had failed to finalize the prisoners’ swap deal for the release of Shalit in exchange with hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. The failure is due to differences between Hamas and Israel.
Hamas wants Israel to free up to 1,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons in exchange for the release of Shalit, and the Palestinian movement has reportedly presented a list of 450 names in Israeli prisons.
Israel also objects to freeing Israeli Arab prisoners as well as several Hamas military wing leaders. Another issue yet to be settled is Israel’s demand to deport almost 100 of the 450 “heavy” prisoners set to be released in the deal.
By MOHAMMED MAR’I