Freidman, IPS urge gov’t to worsen Hamas’ prisoners’ conditions

Posted: March 29, 2009 by Jonathan Boyko in Hamas, Human Rights, Israel, Palestinians

Several Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prison

Several Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prison

The Israeli Prison Service urged the government today (Sunday) to dismiss additional rights of Hamas prisoners, currently jailed in Israel, in response to Hamas’ refusal to budge on a deal securing release of IDF corporal Gilad Shalit. Prisoners will still receive basic foods, health care, sanitary conditions, lawyers, access to Red Cross representatives and others.

“Although we are the only democracy in the Middle East, we don’t have to be the only suckers,” said Friedmann.

The minister and IPS officials briefed the ministers on their work ahead of the recommendations of the committee appointed to form criteria for worsening the jailing conditions of Palestinian security prisoners, in a bid to pressure Hamas and the Islamic Jihad to release kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

The committee is expected to complete its work in the coming week and present its conclusions to the approval of Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government. In practice, some of the sanctions are already being implemented.

The IPS representatives who attended the discussion briefed the government ministers on the benefits and rights of the prisoners who could be hurt. According to the IPS, these prisoners’ academic studies and family visitation rights could be limited and they could be deprived of physical contact.

While many – including the Israeli Left – argue that Palestinian prisoners live in poor conditions, Israeli documentary ‘Hot House’ – reviewed by the New York Times – presents a different picture:

“Hot House,” Shimon Dotan’s absorbing look at Palestinians held in Israeli jails, is full of remarkable interviews. Prisoners talk about how they issue orders to followers on the outside via smuggled cellphones. A former Palestinian newscaster, Ahlam Tamimi, recalls the day she dropped a suicide bomber off at his target, then coolly went on television to report on the resulting bombing.

Mr. Dotan too often lets the prisoners he interviews spout the usual hogwash (“We treat all human beings as brothers,” says a Hamas inmate), but he also zeros in on what makes the prisons so fascinating. “The Israel security service does such a good job that the whole military, political and social leadership is here,” says Col. Ofer Lefler, a spokesman for the Israeli Prisons Authority.

And that leadership isn’t making license plates. Prisoners talk about how they have used their time — decades, for some — to learn more about their own cause. Some entered as boys, but now, through newspapers, television and talks with other inmates, they know what they were fighting for back then.

They pursue university degrees — in Hebrew. “The Palestinian prisoners have turned the Israeli jails into academies and universities,” says Samir Masharawi, a Fatah leader.

This next article, for example, talks about Wael Abdullah Hussein Thaineh, Palestinian prisoner, raised under the ‘agony’ of occupation, received his Master’s degree in Israeli prison:

I got the University’s approval and unreserved encouragement from its president, Dr Rami Hamdullah, and the Dean of the Higher Education Faculty, Dr Khalil Odeh. I asked them to allow me to defend my thesis over the phone and they agreed. Once I received a copy of my thesis through the Red Cross, I readied myself for the viva.

Just to remind ourselves: Hamas never allowed Red Cross representatives to visit imprisoned Gilad Shalit. No one is even talking about defending a thesis over the phone here.


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