An attempt to smuggle several cellphones to Palestinian security prisoners via inmates who had been permitted hospital visits was thwarted, the Kan public broadcaster reported Tuesday.
The phones were discovered Monday evening at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.
Terror groups were apparently planning for prisoners who were visiting the hospital for medical appointments to smuggle the phones back to Ketziot Prison, the report said.
Police opened an investigation to determine who else was involved in the matter.
The hospital’s security chief found a suspicious package concealed in a bathroom and alerted prison guards who had come to check the building ahead of the six prisoners’ arrival, the Srugim website reported.
Police sappers were called to examine the package and found it contained parts to assemble cellphones.
There is an ongoing battle between prison authorities and terror groups that try to send banned phones into prisons. Terror groups have been known to favor certain models that are relatively small, making them easier to conceal.
In February a Palestinian security prisoner was caught attempting to smuggle 11 cellphones into Megiddo Prison hidden in his lower abdomen. Guards became suspicious of the prisoner’s behavior and a magnetometer indicated the presence of foreign items. X-rays performed at HaEmek Medical Center in Afula revealed three packages containing 11 cellphones and 15 SIM cards, the prison service said.
In November 2018, Border Police officers arrested a Palestinian teenager who had attempted to smuggle eight phones, five phone keyboards, 19 SIM cards, and a memory card he had hidden inside his body to prisoners at Ofer military prison.
A month earlier, police uncovered a network to smuggle cellphones to jailed security prisoners and arrested five suspects. Workers at a warehouse supplying the prison canteen were reportedly paid up to NIS 8,000 ($2,250) for each regular phone they placed in a case of food or drink, and NIS 15,000 ($4,245) for each smartphone.
Around the same time, police said they had prevented an attempt to smuggle cellphones into a security prison in the south of the country using drones.
Basel Ghattas, a former Knesset member, was jailed for smuggling cellphones to security prisoners while he was serving as a lawmaker for the Joint List party. Footage from a Prisons Service surveillance camera showed the Arab lawmaker passing envelopes to prisoners at the Ketziot Prison in the south. He was released in May 2019 after a two-year term.
Last September, Hamas security prisoners launched a two-week hunger strike after prison authorities began blocking cellphone signals in prison wings in an effort to prevent the use of smuggled devices.