Abdullah Barghouti
Abdullah Barghouti. Photo by Michal Fatal
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The way Hamas treats its prisoners is relevant in terms of Israel's attitude toward Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails, the Be'er Sheva District Court indicated in a recent ruling rejecting the right of a Palestinian prisoner to family visits.

The prisoner, Abdullah Barghouti, is serving 67 life sentences for preparing the explosives used by suicide bombers in several lethal attacks: on the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in August 2001, the capital's Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall and Moment Cafe in December 2001 and March 2002, respectively, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in July 2002 and the Sheffield Club in Rishon Letzion in August 2002.

Barghouti, who has said he intends to continue fighting Israel, is kept in solitary confinement, which is extended every six months by court order.

Barghouti recently appealed to the court through his attorney, Daniel Shenhar of Hamoked, the Center for the Defense of the Individual. Representatives of the Shin Bet security service told Be'er Sheva District Court Judge Shlomo Friedlander that it opposes family visits for Barghouti. The prosecution said that secret information exists showing that Barghouti has managed to get messages out of prison in order to direct terror activities, and that Barghouti could also get such information out through a child, who would not understand that he was being used.

Friedlander wrote in his ruling that despite the need of children for their father, "not even the slightest risk to human life should be taken to grant the privilege of family visits to a person who has been sentenced to 67 life terms for murder."

In an oblique reference to kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, Friedlander wrote: "In taking into account the collective nature of the acts of the appellant, to my mind the question of reciprocation between the State of Israel and the organization to which the appellant belongs, or lack thereof, is not irrelevant with regard to the prisoners of one side held by the other, although the State of Israel does not, of course, accept the norms of the appellant's organization."