(Photo credit: Israel Prison Service)
Israel’s notoriously extremist National Security Minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, announced on 8 January his decision to cancel a policy which allows any lawmaker in the Israeli Knesset to visit incarcerated Palestinians in prison.
ביטלתי את הנוהל של עמר בר-לב ומיקי לוי שאפשר לכל ח"כ להיפגש עם מחבלים בכלא, לאחר שהגעתי למסקנה כי הביקורים הללו הביאו להסתה ולקידום פעולת טרור. pic.twitter.com/IYQJIidLJm
— איתמר בן גביר (@itamarbengvir) January 8, 2023
Ben Gvir said in a statement that he is set on reinstating an older policy which allows only one MK from each party to visit “terror inmates, or so-called security prisoners,” as Israeli media referred to those who were imprisoned for carrying out resistance operations.
According to the Kahanist minister, these visits must take place under “appropriate supervision.”
“I believe that meetings between Knesset lawmakers and security prisoners can give those prisoners a boost, which may lead to incitement and the promotion of terrorist propaganda,” Ben Gvir said.
“It’s time to stop the parade of treats for terrorists,” he added. Ironically, the newly appointed security minister – who is in charge of Israel’s police and prison system – has himself been incarcerated, and has spent time in jail over his support for the outlawed Kach party.
Just last week, on 5 January, Ben Gvir visited Israel’s newly renovated Nafha prison south of the occupied territories in order to “ensure” that ‘security prisoners’ were “not getting better conditions” as a result of the renovations, Israeli media reported.
“And I was glad to see that the Israeli Prison Service does not intend to improve their holding conditions,” he was quoted to have said.
According to Hebrew outlet Haaretz, Ben Gvir said that he would continue to monitor the conditions of Palestinian prisoners to make sure that they don’t receive “excessive rights.”
The Israeli prison system is known to be excessively brutal for incarcerated Palestinians, especially those convicted for resisting the occupation. Methods used by Israel against prisoners include physical torture, mental abuse, sleep deprivation, and sexual assault.
Additionally, prisoners with severe illnesses are intentionally neglected and left to die, as in the recent case of cancer-stricken resistance fighter Nasser Abu Hmaid.
The prison system was already brutal under the previous government, and things are expected to become even darker for Palestinians in Israeli jails with Ben Gvir in charge of the prison system.
Just two days before his visit to Nafha prison, Ben Gvir followed up on his plan to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, barging into the holy site on 3 January with a large protection force of occupation troops.
His first raid on the compound since assuming the role of minister in Israel’s new government, Ben Gvir’s incursion was referred to as an ‘unprecedented provocation.’