The Israel Prisons Service has placed 23 security inmates in solitary confinement because they threatened to begin a hunger strike to protest the blocking of cellphone signals in their wards, Channel 12 television news reported Wednesday.
The prisoners, held at the Ramon prison, were handed the punishment over the past day.
Each of the inmates was given a hearing and ordered into solitary confinement, the IPS said.
Prisoners from the Hamas terror group were fighting the IPS over an agreement which had ended an earlier hunger strike by some 150 prisoners, also to protest cellphone policies. The strike began after the IPS installed cellular jamming devices in the wards to prevent prisoners from using smuggled cellphones.
Israeli officials reportedly agreed in April to install public telephones in 44 prison wards where the security prisoners are kept, and to allow prisoners to make regular, supervised calls to their families.
The phones were installed in the Ketziot and Ramon prisons but their use was conditioned on prisoners signing a commitment to stop smuggling cellphones into the prisons and to give up any devices they already have in their possession. Any violations of the agreement would lead to the public phones being disconnected.
Whereas prisoners in Ketziot signed the commitment, those in Ramon did not, Haaretz reported in August.
A source close to leaders of Hamas prisoners told the newspaper that the upcoming elections in Israel are also a factor in the dispute, saying that there are those who want to increase tensions in the prisons for political purposes.
The IPS in April said some 300 contraband phones, some carrying messages between terror cells, had been smuggled into the wards in the preceding months. The phones were being used to coordinate terror attacks, and had been implicated in at least 14 recent attempts at coordinating attacks from inside Israeli prisons, the IPS said at the time.