Hamas, Islamic Jihad Prisoners Plan Hunger Strike After Israeli Guard Stabbed in Latest Incident

Prisoners plan to strike on April 7, and may be joined be other Palestinian factions ■ Tensions between inmates and Israel's Prison Service peak after two stabbing incidents

Emergency forces at Ktzi'ot Prison in southern Israel, March 25, 2019.
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners in Israel announced that they plan to launch a hunger strike on April 7. Prisoners from other Palestinian factions may also join the strike, the Palestinian Prisoners' Club said. 

There are currently no negotiations between the prisoner's leadership and the Israel Prison Service, sources in the group say. 

The planned strike comes after a Palestinian prisoner tried to stab an Israeli prison officer at the Keziot Prison this week, a day after an incident in which two prison officers there were stabbed. He is accused of assault with intent to cause serious harm and of being in possession of a prohibited object.

The State Prosecutor on Thursday filed charges against the administrative prisoner, 33-year-old Anas Awad.

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According to the indictment, while guards were taking the prisoners from their cells to the showers, one officer noticed Awad holding a knife that was 8.5 centimeters long. The officer shouted a warning and tried to take the weapon from Awad but the latter tried to stab him, aiming the weapon at the officer's head and neck. Another jailer rushed to assist the guard and was able to stop Awad.

During the incident, one officer was seriously wounded and transferred to Be'er Sheva's Soroka Hospita, where his condition later stabilized. The second officer was lightly wounded. Clashes ensued between the Prison Service and the prisoners, throughout which 11 prisoners, including the ones who stabbed the officers, were injured. Two prisoners were seriously in the riots.

As a result, the Prison Service has raised the alert level at all of the facilities for security prisoners to prevent further riots. The incident has also heightened tensions between Hamas prisoners and the Prison Service following the installation of technology to block outgoing calls from prisoners’ cell phones. The reception disrupters were installed in the Hamas wings of Ramon and Ketziot Prisons as part of a pilot planned to run for several months and later be expanded to all the prison wings that house security prisoners.