A campaign by volunteer group My Israel in support of a law to toughen conditions of terrorist prisoners is gathering steam. Five thousand people have signed the Hebrew-language petition calling on the government to pass a law that would deny terrorists the luxurious conditions they currently enjoy in Israeli jails, in order to put pressure on Hamas to release Gilad Shalit.
A senior Prisons' Service official is quoted on the My Israel website as saying: "Whoever wants an easy matriculation certificate, just has to kill a Jew or carry out a terror attack. He will get his matriculation certificate at the expense of the Israeli taxpayer, until he is freed in the next prisoner deal."
Shalit has been held incommunicado by Hamas since he was abducted in 2006. Hamas treatment of its sole Israeli prisoner is barbaric: the organization does not honor international laws and accepted rules of warfare, and it does not allow Shalit visits of any kind.
Terrorist prisoners in Israel enjoy visits, television, newspapers and ball games. In addition, they are allowed to study for university degrees through Israel's Open University.
The law has been proposed in two versions, one by Likud MK Danny Danon, and the other by Likud MK Yariv Levin, MK Yisrael Hasson (Kadima) and MK Moshe Matalon (Israel is Our Home). It would deny terror prisoners their extra privileges at least until Shalit is released.
The bills has been put on hold at the request of the Prime Minister's Office, due to reported advances in the negotiations for Shalit.
The main reason for the current laxness vis-a-vis the terror prisoners is fear of a situation in which they riot violently. Such a riot would have to be suppressed with force and could involve fatalities among the prisoners, leading to world condemnation, although foreign media and human rights organizations usually pay no attention to the atrocities that are rife in prisons in Arab countries.
Sources say that security personnel are convinced that they will wind up being put on trial if any such fatalities occur, due to pressure from leftist media and MK's, and therefore prefer to keep the terrorists satisfied with their conditions.