Sunday, September 27, 2020

Israel pledges to worsen Palestinian prisoner conditions

By Ary Gotlib - January 09, 2019
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [prisoners]

Israel's Public Security Minister, Gilad Erdan, declared on January 2, a "worsening" in the conditions of security prisoners in Israeli prisons reported Haaretz.

It would include, among other measures, rationing water supply, reducing the number of family visits and ending separation of prisoners belonging to rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah.
Speaking at a press conference, Gilad Erdan proclaimed to reporters; "the party is over."
Erdan affirmed that the plan will see jails removing cooking rights and limiting prisoners' access to television.
"We must make conditions worse [for prisoners] to fulfil our moral duty to terror victims and their families," he added.
According to statistics of prisoner support NGO Addameer, the number of Palestinian prisoners behind bars has reached 5,500, including 230 children and 54 women.
Addameer reported more than 1,800 are already in need of medical care. About 700 suffering from serious or chronic illnesses.
Amjad al-Najjar, spokesperson for Hebron-based Palestinian Prisoners Club
mentioned that ending the policy of separating Hamas prisoners from those affiliated with Fatah, "has worried prisoners the most."
Al-Najjar fears "this may cause fights to break out which could even lead to killings inside the prisons - especially in light of the current political climate."
Palestinian politicians, activists and prisoners have strongly reacted to the Gilad’s announcement.
For Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinians Prisoners Club, Erdan's statements are perceived as propaganda rather than actual policy.
As independent researcher Ramona Wadi wrote in the Middle East Monitor; “Ironically, Erdan is also provoking a sense of unity among Palestinians.”
In a statement released on January 7, prisoners, including 500 administrative detainees saw these measures as ”a declaration of war that marks a new phase of [their] struggle," reported Al-Jazeera.
They also called on Palestinian factions and activists to stand in solidarity with them and demanded national support.
According to Nadia Hijab, director of the Palestinian policy network, Al Shabaka, these rules are a political tool for Israeli politicians who are looking to pick up support in the lead to elections in April.
Hijab told Al-Jazeera; "As [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party heads into the election, they are no doubt seeking to show they are even tougher on Palestinians," searching to win the Israeli right-wing votes.
"They want to win elections off of the suffering of Palestinian prisoners," she concluded.

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