Gov't mulls harsher prison conditions

Aim of bill is to increase pressure on Hamas for Schalit's release.

Palestinian prisoners 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Palestinian prisoners 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
To pressure Hamas to release captive soldier Gilad Schalit, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is weighing a coalition-sponsored bill that would severely limit the privileges enjoyed by Hamas security prisoners in Israeli jails, according to a high-level political source.
The bill was first proposed by MK Danny Danon last fall, but it was pulled at the request of the Prime Minister’s Office which had hoped that the third-party negotiations with Hamas for Schalit’s release would bear fruit.
But for the last five months Hamas has refused to respond to the Israeli offer to release close to 1,000 prisoners in exchange for Schalit, who has been held prisoner in Gaza since June 2006.
When the Knesset began its summer session last week, Danon and other MKs said they wanted to submit the measure as a private members’ bill.
The cabinet secretary told them that that, together with the Justice Ministry, the government was weighing the possibility of sponsoring the bill.
Danon said he believed the measure could come before the Likud legislative committee as early as this coming Sunday.
The bill would reduce to the minimum required by internationalhumanitarian protocols the privileges enjoyed by the Hamas prisoners.For example, they are currently entitled to visits from family members,whereas the bill would limit visits to Red Cross observers.
“Hamas speaks in the language of the Middle East while we expressourselves in the style of the Europeans,” Danon said. “It should not bepossible for terrorists to sit in Israeli jails and receive VIPtreatment while Gilad Schalit is treated like an animal.”