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Shin Bet seeks exclusion from ruling to provide minimum cell space to Palestinian prisoners

GAZA CITY, GAZA - MAY 23: People, holding photos of Palestinian prisoners and Palestinian flags, stage a demonstration demanding that the corpses of Palestinian prisoners who lost their lives in Israeli jails be returned to their families in front of International Committee of the Red Cross building in Gaza City, Gaza on May 23, 2022. ( Ali Jadallah - Anadolu Agency )

Israel's internal intelligence agency, Shin Bet, aims to be excluded from taking part in ruling to provide Palestinian prisoners with minimum cell space.

It comes as prisons are now overpopulated and do not comply with a 2017 High Court ruling, which requires the State to allot each prisoner minimal living space.

According to Arab48.com, three weeks ago, when the Knesset was in the process of being dissolved, three senior Shin Bet officials arrived at the office of MK, Orit Strook, Chairwoman of the Religious Zionism faction, and attempted to enlist her faction's support for a Bill exempting Shin Bet from a High Court of Justice ruling on minimum living space for detainees

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The three senior Shin Bet officials, including the head of the investigations division, the legal counsel to the investigations division, and the legal counsel to the legislation division told Strook that if the law is not passed, the Shin Bet would be forced to reduce the number of detainees under its care significantly.

However, Strook rejected Shin Bet's request, after stating she will support the Bill when it dismantles its Jewish Department, which also imprisons Israeli settlers and criminals in the occupied West Bank, reported Israeli broadcaster, Kan.

"Yes, I delayed – as Chairwoman of the Religious Zionist faction – two Shin Bet Bills, during the phase when I could veto them. I explained to the Shin Bet officials who sat in my office that the way in which they utilise the special capabilities that the Knesset gives them is unacceptable. It is inconceivable that a guy who acted in self-defence at a lynching incident near Ariel, and certainly did not intentionally go out to attack anyone, would be interrogated under torture in the Shin Bet's dungeons while, on the other hand, Arabs who murdered Jews during Guardians of the Wall (May 2021), as in the case of Destau Bisset Hy'd in Ramla – are not touched by the Shin Bet investigations," she said in a statement.

"Something fundamental must change in the conduct of the Shin Bet after the election," she added.

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The Shin Bet issued a statement confirming MK Strook's statement, blaming her for substantial harm to the security of Israeli citizens as a result of the failure of their Bill.

In recent years, Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention have launched multiple protests to demand better conditions, including an end to the unjustified Israeli policy of raiding prisoners' cells.

Israeli authorities routinely commit flagrant violations against Palestinian prisoners, including depriving them of the right to healthcare, protection from infectious diseases and non-discrimination.

According to Palestinian NGOs, there are 4,500 Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, including 34 women and 180 children, and around 500 are being held under Israel's administrative detention policy, which allows holding Palestinians without charge or trial.

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