IPS: Ofer riot was spontaneous but not ideological

Prisons Service plans to enact disciplinary measures.

Poor Palestinian prisoners 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Poor Palestinian prisoners 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Palestinian prisoner riot that rocked the Ofer high-security prison near Pisgat Ze'ev on Saturday came as "no surprise" to the wardens who guard the facility, an Israel Prisons Service spokesman said Sunday. "As we see it, this was a totally spontaneous incident," IPS spokesman Yaron Zamir told The Jerusalem Post, explaining, however, that wardens expected disturbances of this kind to erupt periodically. Zamir denied press reports that claimed the rioting had been launched by Hamas prisoners, saying that the prison wings had no clear-cut segregation between Hamas and Fatah prisoners. "The wing in which the riots began has mixed prisoners [from Fatah and Hamas]; they are not fully separated," he said. "The disorder began as a localized incident of hotheadedness, a spontaneous reaction to the entrance of IPS staff who had come to carry out a routine inspection," he explained. "There was nothing ideological here." Zamir added that the IPS drew no link between the rioting and the formal end of the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. On Saturday, Border Police and IDF troops formed an outer ring outside the prison, as wardens in riot gear raided the site to put down the riot. "We saw food cans and tent poles being thrown by prisoners, while other prisoners tried to calm their comrades down," Zamir said. "It was a lot of noise, but the wardens are professional and they do not get excited by these things. They move in with the right protection and deal with it." The Ofer prison contains 850 security prisoners. Two-thirds of them reside in tents, while the remainder are housed in a prison building. Zamir said the IPS was seeking to move all of the prisoners into a solid structure. Zamir vowed that the perpetrators of the riot and those who incited it would be punished. "We know who they are. They have been charged," he said. The IPS also planned on making conditions for rioters more severe, enacting such measures as cutting down on visiting hours. "These measures will go into effect immediately," Zamir said. All of the wardens and prisoners who suffered light injuries in the rioting have been released from the hospital, he added.