An Israeli minister's plan to "worsen" the conditions of Palestinian security prisoners held by Israel is a propaganda tool to boost his popularity among fellow Likud members, senior Fatah prisoners told Haaretz via an intermediary on Thursday.
The prisoners further said that the implementation of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan's plan, which he announced on Wednesday, would hurt them. "Israel says it's a democracy, but it keeps prisoners in sub-human conditions," an associate of the Palestinian prisoners said.
"What prisoners get today is less than what humans deserve," one of the prisoners said. "Prisons in Egypt have become a better place than prisons in Israel."
Referring to the decision to exclude security prisoners from an initiative to reduce prison overcrowding, the prisoners said that, "In the fight between Hamas and Israel, Fatah and its people are between a rock and a hard place, and they are the ones paying for the mistakes of both sides."
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The prisoners did say, however, that one aspect of the plan, which would end separation between Hamas and Fatah prisoners, may benefit Palestinians. "Erdan is looking to unite the entire Palestinian public, after many have failed," they said.
Senior Prison Service officials said this part of Erdan's plan can be implemented almost immediately. Other measures, however, would take longer and require additional budgets. These include setting up kitchen units and showers outside of the prisoners' wings in order to ration their water consumption and prevent them from cooking in their cells.
In his Wednesday press conference, Erdan said the prisoners' water consumption is "crazy" and called it "another way for them to subvert the state, which must end." For that end, Erdan explained, shower time will be limited.
The plan, which also includes measures such as blocking Palestinian Authority funds and reducing autonomy given to Palestinian prisoners, will be brought up with cabinet ministers for confirmation over the next several weeks.
Erdan said no Israeli security agency is "adamantly opposed" to the move, but representatives of the Israeli military and the Shin Bet security service objected to the plan during a November discussion led by Erdan, citing a potential flare-up.
"The Prison Service can handle any scenario" within its facilities, the minister said. "We must not be deterred by any attempt to scare us." He added that despite's the Shin Bet's reservations, "there is no reason a security issue would be delayed."