Former Ministers Hirchson and Benizri Due to Start Jail Terms

Abraham Hirchson is expected to spend his sentence with men convicted of drug and violence related crimes.

Two former ministers, Abraham Hirchson (Kadima) and Shlomo Benizri (Shas), are due to begin serving their prison sentences Tuesday.

"I told the children to go in the ways of the Torah, that will be my fortitude in this dark place," Benizri said Monday after bidding his family farewell.

His supporters intend to accompany him with a convoy of cars from his home in Jerusalem to Ma'asiyahu prison in Ramla.

Benizri, who was sentenced to four years in prison, will give a short speech before entering the gates at 10 A.M. He was convicted of taking bribes, breach of trust, conspiring to commit a crime and obstruction of justice.

"Every two minutes someone knocks on the door, and since this morning I've received hundreds of calls from people who are hurting over the injustice done to me," Benizri told Haaretz.

On Sunday he visited Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Shas' spiritual mentor, who "cried like a little boy," according to Benizri.

Benizri will serve his entire term in the prison's religious division, as former minister Aryeh Deri did during his prison sentence in this facility. He will share a cell with several other prisoners.

At a later stage Benizri is expected to join the prison instructors and give religious lessons to inmates.

Hirchson is expected to report to Hermon Prison near Kfar Mrar in the north by 11 A.M. He is to share a cell with three others. Since Hermon Prison is a rehabilitation facility; he will be spending the next five years and five months with prisoners convicted of drug and violence related crimes and traffic violations.

Hirchson is also likely to give lessons during his sentence.