The Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday approved a bill that would prevent Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails from receiving family visits as long as the terrorist group continues to hold Israeli citizens captive and keep the remains of IDF soldiers.
Two apparently mentally ill Israeli civilians — Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed — who entered Gaza of their own volition in 2014 and 2015, respectively, are currently being held by Hamas, along with the remains of two IDF soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, killed in the 2014 Israel-Gaza war.
Approval by the committee gives the bill the backing of the coalition parties, easing its passage through parliament to become law.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan welcomed the development and said in a statement that it would give legal backing to policies he is already implementing.
“The bill will allow me to continue to prevent family visits for Hamas terrorists imprisoned in Israel, as long as this terrorist organization holds the bodies of our soldiers and Israeli citizens without allowing anyone to see them, and will upgrade to the status of law the policy I have spearheaded,” Erdan said.
“The new law will enable us to apply the principle that no terrorist from a terror organization which is holding Israeli citizens will have prison visits [from family],” added Erdan, whose ministry is responsible for the Israel Prisons Service.
The bill, sponsored by Likud MK Oren Hazan, would apply to all Hamas members convicted of terrorism, whether they are from the Gaza Strip or the West Bank.
Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel, is believed to be holding the soldiers’ remains to use as bargaining chips in negotiations for the release of its members held Israeli prisons.
Last year, partly in response to campaigning by the Goldin family, Israel imposed new restrictions on Hamas, including refusing to return the bodies of its fighters.
The families of the soldiers have said that Israel’s government should find ways to further pressure Hamas and have accused the Netanyahu government of not doing enough to retrieve their sons’ remains.