IDF weighs jailing soldiers alongside Palestinians

Comes a month after state comptroller slammed army for deteriorating prison conditions.

February 8, 2010 03:29
2 minute read.
IDF weighs jailing soldiers  alongside Palestinians

prison watch tower 88 248. (photo credit: Courtesy)

A month after the state comptroller slammed the IDF for the deteriorating condition of its prisons, The Jerusalem Post learned on Sunday that the military is considering jailing soldier inmates in the Ofer and Ketziot prisons, which are home to thousands of Palestinian security detainees.

The soldiers, a top IDF officer said, would be jailed inside a separate compound within the jails and would not have contact with the Palestinians.

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According to the officer, the IDF is in talks with the Prisons Service, which operates the Ofer and Ketziot facilities, about the possibility of opening a military prison compound inside Ofer, located near Jerusalem, as well as in Ketziot, which is in the Negev near the Egyptian border.

According to the Prisons Service, 2,200 Palestinian security detainees are currently imprisoned in Ketziot and another 1,500 in Ofer.

The IDF operates two jails – Prison 6 near Atlit and Prison 4 at Camp Yadin in Tzrifin, near Rishon Lezion. According to the top officer, there are beds for 1,000 prisoners and as a result 150 soldiers are currently waiting at their respective bases for spots to open up at the prisons.

In State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss’s report last month, he said the IDF Prisons Service lacks proper facilities and trained guards, and mistreats soldiers who are being held in military jails.

The report found that the prison staff was overwhelmingly young and severely lacking in experience. In addition, the report said that 62.8 percent of the inmates at Prison 4 and 39.7% of the inmates at Prison 6 raised serious accusations against the staff.

The comptroller said that the facilities were outdated, with old sewage systems and electrical systems that continuously overloaded.

“This constitutes a severe and persistent blow to the inmates,” the report said.

According to the officer, the Military Police has already invested NIS 8 million in improving the infrastructure in the prisons. The MI has also decided to add 20 new posts for noncommissioned officers, to raise the age of the prison staff.

The IDF, the officer said, was also in negotiations with the Treasury over the possibility that it will purchase a private prison that was constructed in the South and which the High Court of Justice decided could not be operated by private companies.

If the Treasury agrees to sell the facility to the IDF, it will close its two existing prisons and consolidate them into one facility.

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