Plans by Israel’s Interior Security Minister Gilad Erdan to worsen the conditions for Palestinian prisoners have encountered “wide opposition” from the Israeli military and Shin Bet.
According to the report in Haaretz, representatives of various security organisations “warned about the possible consequences of such a move” in a debate this week, “saying it could escalate tensions within the prisons and agitate the Palestinian public in the West Bank and Gaza Strip”.
An Erdan-appointed committee has recommended “removing the customary division in various branches between prisoners identified with Fatah and those identified with Hamas, reduction in family visits for prisoners from the West Bank, prohibiting purchase of food items from outside the prison and revocation of privileges to make purchases at the prison canteen”.
On Monday, a discussion was held at the National Security Council under the direction of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the recommendations, “with the participation of representatives from all the branches of the security establishment”.
“The discussion was intended to assist the chairman of the NSC, Meir ben Shabbat, in consolidating the council’s position before passing a final recommendation to Netanyahu,” Haaretz added.
During the discussion, representatives of the Israeli military and Shin Bet “raised reservations”, arguing that
the conditions in the prisons are sufficiently harsh and that making them worse, and removing the separation between prisoners of different movements, will exacerbate the tension between Hamas and Fatah and the atmosphere in the territories, given the important status of prisoners in the eyes of the Palestinian public.
According to the report, “those close to the prime minister are concerned that these moves regarding the prisons could undermine efforts” to reach a long-term ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.
The Shin Bet and Israeli army “warned about potential immediate consequences if Erdan’s proposals are implemented in the prisons in the near term. They suggested implementing some of the less dramatic recommendations, but only in a staged process.”