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Palestinian charged with smuggling phones to security prisoners inside his body

Border Police say arrested Qalandiya teen was found with 8 phones and other cellular equipment during search at Ofer prison

This undated photo provided by a police spokesperson on November 29, 2018, shows cellphones and other cellular equipment taken from a Palestinian teenager suspected of trying to smuggle them to security prisoners at Ofer military prison in the West Bank. (Israel Police)
This undated photo provided by a police spokesperson on November 29, 2018, shows cellphones and other cellular equipment taken from a Palestinian teenager suspected of trying to smuggle them to security prisoners at Ofer military prison in the West Bank. (Israel Police)

Border Police officers arrested a Palestinian teenager earlier this month on suspicion of attempting to smuggling cellphones to Palestinian security prisoners held at a military prison in the West Bank, police revealed Thursday.

The Palestinian, an 18-year-old from Qalandiya north of Jerusalem, was caught on November 15 after illegally entering Israel, according to Border Police. They then found a 5.56 millimeter bullet on his person.

After an initial interrogation, the Palestinian was sent to Ofer military prison, where during a security check guards discovered eight phones, five phone keyboards, 19 SIM cards, and a memory card he had hidden inside his body.

Border Police said the teen had been offered NIS 20,000 ($5,390) by an unidentified suspect in exchange for smuggling the phones into the prison.

The teenager, who was not named in the police statement, was charged Thursday on four counts relating to the attempted phone smuggling and possession of the bullet, as well as for a June 2011 incident in which he illegally entered Israel.

“The Israel Police together with the other security organizations will continue to act to prevent smuggling into prisons, including the smuggling of cellular devices that can be used by various elements in prison to carry out acts of terror,” police said.

The Ofer military prison, near the West Bank city of Betunia, May 1, 2015. (Miriam Alster/ Flash90)

The arrest of the Palestinian followed a number of other foiled attempts to smuggle cellphones into prisons in recent years.

Basel Ghattas, a former MK, was jailed for smuggling cellphones to security prisoners while he was serving as a lawmaker for the Joint (Arab) 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 eventually sentenced to two years in prison, and began to serve his time in July 2017.

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