Netanyahu: Israel to toughen conditions for Palestinian prisoners
Red Cross aid agency comes under fire from Hamas and Gilad Shalit's family
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced yesterday that he plans to toughen the conditions of Palestinian security prisoners in Israel's prisons. "I have decided to change Israel's treatment of terrorists sitting in prison," Netanyahu said during the closing statements at the Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem. "We will give them all that they deserve according to international law, but nothing beyond that." Netanyahu said he was required to respect Israeli law, international law, and international trust. He won't go any further than that, though, with Israel taking a series of steps to harden prisoners' conditions. "We will stop, among other things, the absurd practice in which terrorists who murdered innocent people enroll in academic studies," he said. "There will be no more 'doctors of terror' - the celebration is over." Netanyahu's comments came after Hamas refused to answer the International Red Cross' request that the Gaza rulers provide proof that abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit is still alive. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters in Gaza: "The Red Cross should not get involved in Israeli security games aimed at reaching Shalit. It should take a stand that results in ending the suffering of Palestinian prisoners." The Red Cross subsequently came under fire from the family of Gilad Shalit, who said the aid agency needed to be far stronger dealing with Hamas. "We demand that the Red Cross' approach be more active and decisive," Noam Shalit, Gilad's father, said after Hamas' dismissed the Red Cross's request on Thursday. "I would like to believe that they would give us a sign of life from Gilad," he added. "We are conducting ongoing dialogue with the Red Cross but it has not been much help. I did not hear them condemn Hamas on its crime against Gilad. The Red Cross has been a complete failure in this affair." Senior Red Cross officials said their message was transmitted privately to Hamas in the Gaza Strip a few weeks ago. In an unusual public appeal yesterday, the independent aid agency said Shalit's family had a right under international humanitarian law to be in contact with their 24-year-old son, held incommunicado since his capture on June 25, 2006.