Israeli Minister to Hamas Prisoners: No World Cup for You

The move is aimed in part to get Hamas to return the bodies of two soldiers and to release two Israelis who have been held in Gaza for years

Security prisoners at Megiddo Prison in 2005.
Itzik Ben-Malki

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has instructed the head of the prison service to block Hamas prisoners from watching the World Cup soccer tournament that starts next month.

The decision was announced Sunday at a meeting between Erdan, prison service chief Ofra Klinger and other officials. They agreed to consider changing regulations and blocking all security prisoners from watching television or specific channels.

Erdan’s directive aims in part to get Hamas to return the bodies of soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, along with Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, Israelis who have been held in Gaza for years.

The decision is Erdan’s latest move against Hamas prisoners; others include halting family visits from Gaza, not returning the bodies of terrorists and worsening the prison conditions of terrorists to the minimum required by international law.

At Sunday’s meeting at the Public Security Ministry, the officials noted that regulations from 1997 require that prisoners be allowed to watch television. As a result, Erdan instructed the ministry's lawyers to change the regulations to give the prison service wider latitude on which channels are broadcast.

“I have no intention to let Hamas terrorists watch the World Cup while the bodies of our soldiers are held in Gaza along with our kidnapped citizens,” Erdan said.

“Anyone who has removed himself from the family of nations and clings to a culture of murder and terror cannot enjoy international sports competitions that connect different peoples around the world. We will continue to crack down on prisoners of the Hamas terror organization and consider worsening prison conditions for security prisoners from other organizations.”

The monthlong World Cup, which is taking place in Russia, starts on June 14.