Palestinian prisoners wait to be released from Ketziot prison, southern Israel, October 1, 2007.
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN / REUTERS)
Security prisoners are rioting inside Israeli prisons and coordinating terrorist attacks happening outside of prison, thanks to cell phone contact with the outside world, according to a Saturday report by Channel 13.
The violent fighting within the prison system began two months ago with riots in the Ofer Prison. Then, two weeks ago, Hamas prisoners set fire to a wing of the Rimon Prison. This past week, two prison guards were stabbed during fights between prisoners and the guards at the Ketziot Prison.
The disturbances within the prisons are coordinated through cell phones, which are also used to coordinate terror attacks outside of the prisons. In recent years, terrorists directed fourteen terrorist attacks from within Israeli prisons, the report said.
The Israeli Prison Service to date has apparently not succeeded in blocking communications between prisoners and the outside world.
The prison system keeps close contact with security establishments around the world, according to Adi Karmi, a former Shin Bet official. Still, “we know that terror attacks come from within the prisons,” Karmi said.
It seems that an “understanding” has crystallized between the prison service and the prisoners. Some claim that keeping things quiet became the only goal. No jailer wanted a riot during his shift and no one wanted to call for backup to deal with hunger strikes.
The cells and wings of the security prisoners are arranged according to political affiliation, according to Channel 13. Jailers don’t deal directly with the prisoners; instead, they interact through a “spokesperson” who is assigned to each cell and wing. The security prisoners even cook for themselves within their cells and Hamas funds affiliated prisoners who are in Israeli jails.
Occasionally a committee is set up to examine the issue, but Israel only provides the bare minimum necessary for security prisoners. The Palestinian Authority pays the remaining significant portion of the prisoners’ needs.
“When there are this many prisoners, in order to maintain a reasonable lifestyle, the Prison Authority and these terrorists must coordinate,” said Yoram Schweitzer from the Institute for National Security Studies. “This is how a common lifestyle is conducted by the two sides.”
“In the beginning, the Shin Bet really wanted the screening of phones that I initiated, which the terrorists are revolting against now,” responded the Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan, Channel 13 reported. “Recently, the Shin Bet and the IDF have not been enthusiastic about the project, since they are tying it to the tensions in the Gaza Strip. I think that this is a life-saving project that prevents the directing of terror attacks from within the prison.”
The Prison Authority has “stopped visits from families from Gaza, stopped allowing Arab members of Knesset to visit prisoners, stopped allowing them to watch television, and there are no academic classes,” according to Erdan.
Erdan pointed out that “in another week, the Hamas prisoners are supposed to start a hunger strike. This isn’t because they enjoy the conditions, rather the opposite. There have been changes in recent years. All the excess conditions remaining will end. This celebration is about to end.”
In 2011, then Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch presented a plan to use electronic devices to detect the use of cellular phones in prisons and to more thoroughly check visitors to prevent smuggling.
Danny Danon, the Israeli ambassador to the UN who was a Likud MK at the time, felt the measures were insufficient, responding that "we must stop the celebrations inside of our jails."
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