Prisons Service to cut amenities being sold to terror convicts
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Prisons Service to cut amenities being sold to terror convicts

Activist group discovers Palestinian security prisoners able to buy name-brand shoes, chocolates, skin creams at prison canteens using PA funds

Illustrative: Palestinian security prisoners in Ofer Prison, north of Jerusalem, August 20, 2008. (Moshe Shai/Flash90/File)
Illustrative: Palestinian security prisoners in Ofer Prison, north of Jerusalem, August 20, 2008. (Moshe Shai/Flash90/File)

Prisons Service officials said Monday that they were drastically reducing the items available for purchase at prison canteens in wards that house Palestinian security prisoners.

The move comes amid an ongoing effort to worsen conditions for the prisoners, many of whom are serving terms for their roles in deadly terror attacks against Israelis.

“Some 50 percent of the amount and variety of items” available for purchase in the canteens “will be cut,” an unnamed Prisons Service official told Channel 12 on Monday.

The move comes after right-wing advocacy group Lavi complained to the service over what it described as the lavish offerings in prison commissaries, where prisoners can buy items using a NIS 400 monthly allowance funded by the Palestinian Authority.

The list of items Lavi claimed had been found on sale in the canteens included brand-name Timberland, Nike and New Balance shoes, Tibetan tea, Kinder brand chocolates, and Estee Lauder skin creams.

Illustrative. New Balance 997 shoes (CC BY sling@flickr, Flickr)

The Prisons Service said the stores are run by subcontracters, who are paid the prisoners’ stipends from the PA for items requested by the prisoners.

The latest restrictions follow a major flareup in security prisoners’ wards in recent months, after the Prisons Service installed cellular jamming devices to prevent them from using smuggled cellphones to call outside the prison.

On Sunday, a group of prisoners was reportedly refusing to move to a new ward where jamming devices were installed, despite understandings reached last month with the Prisons Service.

In April, a hunger strike by dozens of security prisoners belonging to the Hamas terror group came to an end, after Israeli officials agreed to install public telephones in their prison wards.

The IPS said some 300 contraband cellphones, some carrying messages between terror cells, had been smuggled into the wards in the preceding months. The phones had been implicated in at least 14 recent attempts to coordinate terror attacks from inside Israeli prisons, the IPS said.

The row over incarceration conditions recently sparked violence, including riots at Ketziot Prison that, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, left 120 prisoners hurt in altercations throughout February and March.

Twice in March, Hamas prisoners attacked guards at Ketziot Prison, with one guard sustaining serious injuries from a stab wound to his neck. In another attack, inmates used shanks to stab guards while the prisoners were being moved between cells, sparking a riot in the prison.

In late February, Hamas prisoners in Ramon Prison torched 14 beds in 10 cells, setting a fire in the wing. The blaze was quickly extinguished and no injuries were reported. In that incident, too, prisoners were protesting restrictions on cellphone usage.

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