ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 147

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Ben Gvir orders disused underground jail wing readied to hold Oct. 7 terrorists

Section in Ramle’s Nitzan Prison offers minimal conditions, and has not been used in many years; 118 ‘unlawful combatants’ from Gaza held, according to latest figures

Illustrative: Inside Nitzan Prison in Ramle, February 27, 2012. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Illustrative: Inside Nitzan Prison in Ramle, February 27, 2012. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said Thursday that he instructed Israel Prison Service Commissioner Katy Perry to make preparations to incarcerate Hamas terrorists captured during the October 7 shock onslaught on southern Israel in a little-used underground prison wing in central Israel.

The underground wing of the Nitzan Prison in the central city of Ramle has not been in use for many years and offers minimal imprisonment conditions, media reports said.

The Ynet news site reported that about 100 terrorists can be held in the underground wing, according to estimates.

Perry said on October 17 that Israel was holding some 118 “unlawful combatants” from Gaza, in reference to the Hamas terrorists captured on and after October 7, although more recent figures have not been released.

Those captives were among the 3,000 Hamas terrorists who stormed into southern Israel on the morning of October 7, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking over 240 hostages.

Ben Gvir, whose office oversees the prison service, said in a statement “the policy we are directing now is minimal conditions for these heinous murderers.”

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir leads a faction meeting of his Otzma Yehudit party at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on December 4, 2023. (Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90)

In a post on X, Ben Gvir said that “Nazis don’t deserve a drop of sunshine while our captives sit in tunnels of hell.”

Ben Gvir has been criticized for advancing populist policies, particularly in prisons, without consideration for potential broader security consequences.

Even before October 7, Ben Gvir was consistently pushing to worsen prison conditions for inmates incarcerated on terror convictions, despite warnings from prison officials and the defense establishment that such measures could inflame the already fraught West Bank.

Earlier in the year, he reduced shower times for detainees, and ordered the removal of ovens for security prisoners in Nafha Prison and another facility, saying he wanted to deny imprisoned terrorists perks including fresh-baked pitas. He has also pushed to limit family visits.

Last month, a relative of hostages held in Gaza blasted the minister after he boasted about the harsh conditions in prison wings currently holding captured terrorists from Hamas’s elite Nukhba force.

“Itamar, I’m begging, My cousin is now in the hands of Hamas,” Gil Dickmann wrote, referring to his cousin Carmel Gat, held captive in Gaza. “Your words, about the dark dungeon, the hole in the floor, the handcuffs and the humiliation put her in real danger.”

“Every tweet of yours is a match that burns the hearts of our families. I’m begging, Itamar. There are Israelis there, whose life and death depend on your words. Please stop.”

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