Netanyahu orders prisons to prepare for large inrush of Palestinian inmates in 2024

Activists claim administrative prisoner population has nearly doubled since October 7; Israel says most arrests of terror suspects made in Gaza since October 7

Hamas terror suspects, caught during Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 and during the ongoing IDF operations in Gaza, seen at a courtyard in a prison in southern Israel, February 14, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Hamas terror suspects, caught during Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 and during the ongoing IDF operations in Gaza, seen at a courtyard in a prison in southern Israel, February 14, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered government ministries on Sunday to prepare prisons for an influx of thousands of inmates, according to a statement from the premier’s office.

During a meeting with representatives from the ministries of defense, national security, and finance, the IDF and Shin Bet presented estimates showing that thousands of terrorists are expected to be arrested in 2024, which will lead to a lack of space in the prisons if preparations are not made.

Since the beginning of the war between Israel and Hamas, about 4,000 arrests of terror suspects have been made, the majority of them in Gaza.

The Israel Prison Service presented both short-term and medium-term plans for the expected increase, which Netanyahu approved, the statement said.

Last Thursday, the IDF and Shin Bet said some 40 Palestinian suspects held under administrative detention had been released in a move aimed at freeing up space “for detainees of a higher threat level.”

A statement put out by the organizations noted the released suspects had been slated to be freed in the coming month.

Hamas terror suspects, caught during the October 7 massacre and subsequent IDF operations in Gaza, seen at a courtyard in a prison in southern Israel, February 14, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Administrative detention is a controversial tool whereby Palestinian terror suspects and, more rarely, Jewish terror suspects, are detained without charge or trial. The tool is typically used when authorities have intelligence tying a suspect to a crime but do not have enough evidence for charges to stand up in a court of law.

The detentions must be renewed by a military court every six months, and prisoners can remain in jail for years under the mechanism. Israel says administrative detention is a tool that helps keep dangerous terrorists off the streets and allows the government to hold suspects without divulging sensitive intelligence. Critics say the policy denies suspects and prisoners due process.

While some Palestinians are detained without known charges, the most common grounds for arrest range from online calls for violence to alleged terrorist activity.

Activists estimated in February that the number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails had swelled to around 9,000, from about 5,200 before Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, when terrorists from Gaza invaded southern Israel and slaughtered about 1,200 people, most of them civilians in their homes and at a music festival, and kidnapped 253.

Israeli prison authorities announced a state of emergency after October 7 to prevent the potential involvement of inmates in violence and further unrest.

Most Popular
read more: