Israel will lower the prison conditions for persons charged with terrorism, making them as rigid as possible, but still in accordance with international law, the Jerusalem post reported on January 2nd. The move was described as an attempt to deter terrorists from committing acts of violence against Israelis.
“We will not be deterred by threats and hunger strikes,” Strategic Affairs and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan announced on at a press conference. “Making the terrorists’ conditions worse is necessary both to create deterrence and to fulfill our moral duty to terror victims and their families.”
Erdan explained that security and criminal prisoners should be treated differently.
“When it comes to security prisoners, one of the main goals of imprisonment, rehabilitation, does not exist, because prisoners are infused with a terrorist ideology that does not regret their actions,” he said.
For example, prisoners from the Fatah and Hamas factions will no longer be separated in the Israeli prisons, despite tensions that often result in deaths between the groups. Earlier, they were held in cells according to their affiliation, which, Erdan says, only cemented the bonds within the respective groups, “strengthening their organization identity.”
Security prisoners will also not be allowed to cook for themselves inside the wards, because this was an “unfair advantage” over criminal prisoners. “Every so often, infuriating pictures appear of cooking in the terrorist wings. The party is over,” Erdan said.
Cooking appliances and utensils will be confiscated and the “canteen money” prisoners receive from rights organizations and relatives will be drastically reduced.
Showers would also be removed from prisoner wings and access to them would be restricted.
Family visits will also be limited and Israeli MPs will be completely banned from visiting Palestinian detainees in prison.
“Seven months ago, Erdan set up a committee to determine what steps Israel could take to make incarceration conditions harsher for those who committed acts of terrorism. He decided to fully comply with the recommendations.
Some of the recommendations include reducing water consumption for prisoners, cutting potential canteen allotment in prison and mixing Hamas and Fatah prisoners in the same wing,” the Jerusalem post reported.
Convicted terrorists reportedly often keep the water faucets open all day “as an act of defiance against the state,” according to Erdan. Sometimes this means that a “Palestinian terrorist” wastes five times more water than an Israeli citizen.
Furthermore, RT cited Palestinian rights groups who say that the new regulations would make prisoners’ lives unbearable.
“Qadri Abubaker, the head of the Prisoners’ Commission, called on the Palestinian public, media, officials, and rights advocates to firmly oppose the new restrictions “to expose these arrogant policies,” as cited by Palestinian news agency Wafa.”
The Palestinian Prisoner Society accused Erdan of using the crackdown to improve his image leading up to the April 9th elections.
“What Erdan has announced regarding his recommendation to take away what the prisoners have fought for is a nothing more than political bankruptcy in which the prisoners are used as an election auction between candidates of the Israeli parties,” Qaddoura Faris, head of PPS, told Wafa.”
In 2012, a MSNBC show “Lockup: World Tour,” visited Israeli prisons and called them “prisoners’ paradise.” The show claimed that due to these good conditions, second-time offenders are at a low and that people really do get reformed inside. Whether harsher conditions would deter from violence and “terrorism” is, however, questionable.