Ben Gvir said to order reduced shower time for terror inmates

Security prisoners to be allotted four minutes to wash, after national security minister and Prisons Service allege deliberate waste of water

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir (center) listens to Israel Prison Service chief Katy Perry (left) during a visit to Nafha Prison, January 6, 2023. (Israel Prison Service)
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir (center) listens to Israel Prison Service chief Katy Perry (left) during a visit to Nafha Prison, January 6, 2023. (Israel Prison Service)

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir has told the Israel Prisons Service to reduce the amount of time that security prisoners are allowed to shower, according to a Monday report.

Terror inmates, often referred to as security prisoners, will only be allotted four minutes to shower, and running water for showers will only be allowed for an hour a day, the Ynet news site reported.

The new rules will be implemented first in two wings of southern Israel’s high-security Nafha prison. The facility’s water system allows guards to shut off water flow to showers at specific times. The Prisons Service has received the new order from Ben Gvir and is preparing to implement the measure in the coming days.

Other prisons that house terror inmates do not have such a water system, and Ben Gvir has asked the Prisons Service to find a solution for restricting shower water for security prisoners in those facilities.

Ben Gvir said the measure is meant to halt the intentional waste of water by inmates.

The Prisons Service in recent years has said that security prisoners leave the showers running for hours at a time. In 2007, the service said security prisoners consumed around 1,000 liters of water per day, while criminal prisoners consumed 500 liters, and civilians used 250 liters.

Palestinian prisoners have threatened “disobedience” and a hunger strike over Ben Gvir’s new order.

“We demand liberty and everyone must hear our message and our voice. We can no longer tolerate the daily abuse against us since Ben Gvir came to power,” a prisoners group said in a statement.

Among his hardline political positions, Ben Gvir has often spoken out against providing Palestinians convicted of terror-related offenses with comfortable conditions. He has also said he will propose legislation to allow for the death penalty for certain terror offenses.

Late last month, Ben Gvir 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.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir at the Knesset in Jerusalem, February 5, 2023. (Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90)

“It’s unacceptable that terrorists, murderers of women and children, will get fresh pitas and fresh wraps, as if they were in a restaurant,” Ben Gvir said.

The decision will end up costing around NIS 1.5 million because the Prisons Service will need to buy pitas from external suppliers, Ynet reported.

Earlier this month, Ben Gvir and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced that Israel Defense Forces soldiers will stop serving as prison guards in sections housing convicted terrorists within the next six months due to repeated incidents of sexual abuse by inmates in those wards.

Last month, Ben Gvir toured Nafha Prison to make sure terror inmates had not received improved conditions after a recent renovation. The visit elicited outrage from the Hamas terror group, which called it a “dangerous escalation.”

Ben Gvir, who heads the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, ran on campaign promises of cracking down on Palestinian attacks and Arab Israeli crime. As national security minister, he also oversees police and the Border Police. Ben Gvir was not conscripted into the IDF because of his far-right political activism.

His hardline positions have sparked tensions with some security officials. His demand for a major police operation in East Jerusalem this week in response to terror attacks was rebuffed by a senior government official who said Ben Gvir did not have the authority to make such a decision.

Former police commissioner Moshe Karadi on Saturday said Ben Gvir was  “a pyromaniac with a gas tank” and “entirely unequipped” to head the national security ministry.

Ben Gvir has also faced criticism from the hard right after several deadly terror attacks in recent weeks, with detractors saying he has so far failed to deliver on his vows to crush terror and introduce punishments of unprecedented severity against attackers and their families..

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