Activists: No visits for Hamas inmates

Protesters for Schalit try to block visitors' access to Palestinian prisoners held in Hasharon Prison.

pal prisoners praying 248 88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
pal prisoners praying 248 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Dozens of activists from the campaign to free kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit on Monday held a protest outside Hasharon Prison and demanded that the living conditions of Hamas prisoners be downgraded to match those of Schalit. Protesters attempted to deny entrance to the facility to dozens of Palestinian women who had come to visit their loved ones and demanded that the government curtail all visitation rights for all Hamas prisoners. On Monday morning, MK Yariv Levin (Likud) proposed a bill that would force the government to downgrade the living conditions of all security prisoners held in Israeli jails as long as Schalit, or any other Israeli, is held in "inhumane conditions." Meanwhile, one of the leaders of the Hamas prisoners, Yihye Sanwar, called on the organization not to capitulate to Israeli demands and to insist on freeing all of the prisoners on the list it submitted to Israeli in exchange for Schalit. In an interview with the London-based daily Asharq Alawsat Monday, Sanwar called on the families of Palestinian prisoners to be patient and allow Hamas to attain its goals in the negotiations with Israel. On Monday, Palestinian sources quoted by Israel Radio said that the Israel Prisons Service allowed Hamas leaders to convene a meeting to discuss their take on the Schalit deal. Last week, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert established a special ministerial committee for examining the conditions of Hamas prisoners in order to look into ways to put pressure on Hamas to free Schalit. It was tasked with clarifying the legal parameters for downgrading the prison conditions for Hamas members jailed in Israel. The committee established a subcommittee made up of representatives of the Attorney-General's Office, the Israel Prisons Service, the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), which will consider curtailing Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoner privileges. According to a statement put out by the Justice Ministry, the subcommittee will consider reducing the amount of money allotted the prisoners for their personal needs, reducing their television and radio rights, curtailing visitation rights, limiting their ability to study for high school diplomas or university degrees and limiting physical contact with visitors. The subcommittee is to draw up its recommendations within the coming week. Rebecca Anna Stoil contributed to this report