Security prisoner caught with 11 contraband cellphones inside his abdomen

Security prisoner caught with 11 contraband cellphones inside his abdomen

Israeli Prison Service says that efforts to smuggle devices into Israeli jails happen ‘all the time’; phones are intended for use in directing terror attacks

Cellphones and SIM cards found inside a security prisoner's abdomen. (Israel Prisons Service)
Cellphones and SIM cards found inside a security prisoner's abdomen. (Israel Prisons Service)

A Palestinian security prisoner was caught attempting to smuggle 11 cellphones into Megiddo Prison in northern Israel last week, the Israeli Prison Service announced on Sunday.

Guards at Megiddo became suspicious of the prisoner’s behavior while he was being processed for detention following his arrest last Tuesday.

Running a magnetometer over his stomach indicated the presence of foreign items, and subsequent X-rays performed at HaEmek Medical Center in Afula revealed three packages containing 11 cellphones and 15 SIM cards in his lower abdomen, the prison service said.

The authorities stated that the phones were “intended to direct terrorist activities outside the prison walls” and had been hidden in the abdomen of the unnamed suspect, whom they identified as a member of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement.

After the phones were recovered, the prisoner was sent to solitary confinement.

A picture released by the Shin Bet security agency on December 6, 2018, shows cellphones, a drone and cash that were allegedly tied to a failed attempt to smuggle phones into a security prison using a drone. (Shin Bet)

“Israeli Prison Service emphasizes that attempts to smuggle equipment and cell phones among security detainees, who are arrested for minor offenses by security forces, continue all the time,” the prison service said in a statement.

“The detainees risk their lives by carrying packages inside their bodies, which in most cases can cause medical complications resulting in death.”

This is not the first time that a security prisoner has attempted to smuggle cellphones into prison in this fashion. In November 2018, Border Police officers arrested a Palestinian teenager who had attempted to smuggle eight phones, five phone keyboards, 19 SIM cards, and a memory card he had hidden inside his body to prisoners at Ofer military prison.

A month earlier, police uncovered a network to smuggle cellphones to jailed security prisoners and arrested five suspects. They had been working for a company supplying canteen products to Israeli prisons.

Joint List MK Basel Ghattas appears at Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court for a remand hearing on December 26, 2016, following his arrest on suspicion of smuggling cellphones to Palestinian security prisoners. (Photo by Meged Guzani/POOL)

Workers at the warehouse supplying drinks to the prison canteen were reportedly paid sums up to NIS 8,000 ($2,250) for each regular phone they placed in a case of food or drink to smuggle into the jail, and NIS 15,000 ($4,245) for each smartphone.

Around the same time, police said that they had prevented an attempt to smuggle cell phones into a security prison in the south of the country using drones.

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 released from prison in May 2019 after a two year term.

Last September, Hamas security prisoners launched a two-week hunger strike after prison authorities began blocking cellphone signals in prison wings in an effort to prevent the use of smuggled mobile devices.

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