Palestinian Prisoners' Hunger Strike Ends After Reaching Deal With Israel

Israel agrees to install public phones in cells ■ Israeli and Palestinian sources negate each other on removal of cellphone jammers

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Palestinian security prisoners in Nafha Prison, January, 2019.
Palestinian security prisoners in Nafha Prison, January, 2019.Credit: Reuven Castro / Walla

The hunger strike organized by Palestinian prisoners in Israel has ended after the Prison Service agreed to install public phones in prisoners' cellblocks and allow them to make supervised calls to relatives, sources among the prisoners said on Monday.

They added that while Israel agreed to remove its cellphone jammers only if all the prisoners’ cellphones are taken, the prisoners won’t need cellphones if public phones are installed and properly maintained.

>> Read more: Wounded Palestinian prisoners left in rain with no food or toilets in 'night of the atrocity'Hamas pressure could force Israel to deal with prisoners' hunger strike days before election | Analysis

“We’ve proved that the person running the jail is Mohammed Arman rather than Gilad Erdan,” one veteran prisoner said, referring respectively to the leader of the strike and the public security minister.

“Our conclusion from the latest events is that only those who stab [wardens] and torch their cells get what they want,” he added.

Sources among the prisoners said Israel had agreed that each prisoner would be able to speak with a direct family member approved by the Shin Bet security service up to three times a week.

They also said that contrary to what Israel claims, the jammers won’t be activated, and prisoners who were transferred from Ketziot Prison to Megiddo Prison following prison riots will be returned to Hamas cellblocks.

Arman is considered the most senior Hamas prisoner in Israel. He is serving 36 life sentences for his role in three Hamas terror attacks – at the Moment Café in Jerusalem, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Mount Scopus campus, and a billiards club in Rishon Letzion – plus one attempted attack, on the Pi Glilot gas storage site.

He led the other Hamas prisoners in the hunger strike that began eight days ago.

An Israeli security official said the prisoners promised to turn all their smuggled cellphones over to the Prison Service in exchange for installation of the public phones. But he insisted that the jammers won’t be removed.

In fact, he said, the Prison Service has made it clear to the prisoners that public phones will be installed only in cellblocks that have cellphone jammers.

The official confirmed that the public phones will be available only for calls to direct relatives who have been approved by the Shin Bet.

Israel however, did not accept the Palestinians’ demand to reinstate family visits for prisoners from the Gaza Strip, the official said. Reinstating those visits, which Erdan had canceled, was one of the Hamas prisoners’ main demands, but Israel insisted it was a non—starter.

Israel also rejected Hamas’ demand that prisoners transferred to other jails after last month’s riots at Ramon Prison be returned. During those riots, the prisoners set fire to cellblocks where cellphone jammers were installed.

The Prison Service has for years opposed installing public phones in the jails due to Shin Bet objections. But during the recent strike, it was actually the Shin Bet that proposed public phones as an alternative.

In closed discussions, Shin Bet officials said they changed their minds because it was possible to listen in on calls from public phones.

On Saturday, the Palestinians said that some 400 prisoners were participating in the strike. But according to the Prison Service, only about 100 were actually returning meals uneaten. It also said that only two prisoners, in the Ohalei Kedar Prison, needed medical treatment.

The strike was announced by Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners after a Palestinian prisoner tried to stab an Israeli prison officer at the Ktzi'ot prison in late March, a day after two other officers serving there were stabbed.

As a result, the Prison Service raised the alert level in all of the facilities for security prisoners to prevent further riots. The incident also heightened tensions between Hamas prisoners and the Prison Service following the installation of technology to block outgoing calls from prisoners’ contraband cell phones.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad militant was killed following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, on Sunday.

Gazans Are Tired of Pointless Wars and Destruction, and Hamas Listens to Them

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage