Yigal Amir
Yigal Amir Photo by Tomer Neuberg
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Yaron Kaminsky
Late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin Photo by Yaron Kaminsky

Yigal Amir, who is serving a life sentence for the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, will serve out his prison sentence amongst the general prison population.

Amir has been in solitary confinement since his arrest for Rabin's murder 17 years ago. Until 2006 he was under camera surveillance 24 hours a day.

Amir's case, likely that of all prisoners in solitary confinement, has been reviewed every six months by a committee of the Israel Prison Service since his incarceration. The committee accepted the recommendation of the Shin Bet security service and the police that he remain separated from other prisoners and be kept in solitary confinement. The main reason for this was concern he might be killed by other prisoners. A secondary reason was that Amir had never expressed remorse for his crime.

But in May of this year, the court approved a request by Amir that he be allowed to pray with up to three other prisoners every day, and it recommended that the prison service revisit the issue of Amir's solitary confinement. It was since decided to move him into the general population.

The change will mean that Amir, who is serving his sentence in Rimonim prison near Netanya, will now be able to watch television and use a phone more frequently. He will not be moved to an open cell block, where prisoners remain outside their cells all day long or work outside. But he will be able to meet with other prisoners for two hours every day in the prison yard.

The prison service said it would be very careful when deciding which prisoners would be housed together with Amir.

In December 2010, the High Court of Justice rejected a petition by Amir to end his solitary confinement, but said such a possibility could be considered in the future.

The court had suggested at the time that Amir could share a cell with one other particular prisoner, an option the prisoner himself rejected, saying it would perpetuate a form of solitary confinement.

The High Court stated in its 2010 ruling, "Even 15 years after the terrible act of which Amir was convicted, the material in general shows a danger to state security, in that Amir could spread his dreadful doctrine to other prisoners."

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