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Palestinian Prisoners and Israeli national security

Israeli forces make Palestinian prisoners line up in their cell [Palestine Info Center/Twitter]
Israeli forces make Palestinian prisoners line up in their cell [Palestine Info Center/Twitter]

The attempt by some in Israel to link the escalation on the Gaza border with external factors and Iranian orders was not successful. According to Haaretz newspaper’s military correspondent, Yaniv Kubovich, some security circles in Israel are claiming that the reason for the escalation was the hunger strike organised by the Islamic Jihad prisoners in Ofer Prison. However, the more accurate reason is that security agencies with narrow interests in Erdan’s interior ministry and the prison authorities attacked Palestinian prisoners, beginning with the Islamic jihad prisoners and then extended to the rest of the Palestinian prisoners.

These hostile parties believe that the Palestinian prisoners are living in a vacuum and that the attacks on them will not have any repercussions. They seem to have forgotten the hunger strike by the administrative prisoners, which led to a domino effect that resulted in a war that shook Israel for 51 days in 2014.

The security and political level in Israel can learn a valuable lesson from the escalation in Gaza occurring on January 22nd. The experience is that any attack or assault on prisoners in a barbaric manner is considered an attack on the region’s security and specifically Israel’s security. Based on this, the decision-making rules regarding the prisoners could change in a manner that does not allow those with narrow interests to make decisions that implications and consequences on Israel’s interests and security.

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It is unclear whether the sniper bullet that hit the helmet of a secret commander in the Israeli army, almost killing him on January 22nd is in line with the rules of fire and understandings reached by the Palestinian resistance factions in the Gaza Strip with the Israeli occupation authorities mediated by Egypt. However, it is apparent that the Palestinian prisoners are highly regarded and respected, especially among the Palestinian people and all the Palestinian resistance factions, especially in this case the Al-Quds Brigades and Islamic Jihad. This has reached the extent of Islamic Jihad fighters targeting an Israeli officer and exposing the area to escalation. This may be because they are aware that the increase would be limited, and it may be useful to respond to the series of Israeli attacks and delays in all matters relating to understandings regarding prisoners and Gaza.

Yesterday’s incident was followed by Israeli responses, which were exaggerated as usual, in the form of attacking the resistance’s sites, leading to the death of wounding of several Palestinians. This was then followed by Netanyahu’s decision to stop the entry of Qatari funds into Gaza. These actions indicate the extent of national concern, especially in the case of the prisoners, firmly and proudly endured by the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. This is at a time when many Arabs and Palestinians, especially in the leadership, abandoned the issues and concerns of their people to serve personal, narrow, or mistaken interests.

Hence, the escalation incident yesterday highlighted the fact that the prisoner issue is a matter of Palestinian national security, and that the abuse of prisoners inside the prisons and the unjust attacks on them, such as that taking place in Ofer two days ago, will also affect the Israeli national security. Many Israeli leaders and influential figures have acknowledged this, but will Minister Erdan and those like him realise this?

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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