Lt. Gen. Aharon Franco, Head of the Israel Prisons Service, is quoted Sunday as saying that the IPS intends to deny terrorist – or “”security” – prisoners all of the privileges not mandated by international law.
Photo taken from an inmate's Facebook account and displayed on Maariv website.
“We are currently in a process of assessment vis-à-vis everything to do with the holding of security prisoners,” Franco told the Maariv daily newspaper. “All that is required by the treaties and laws governing prisoners, we will give, but whatever is not – we intend to remove. We are carrying out a legal and intra-organizational examination of the IPS. As the Prime Minister said, we have stopped the process of registering prisoners to academic studies.”
Franco said that the security prisoners, who number almost 6,000, have been receiving more and more privileges over the course of 20 years (Note: the “Oslo peace process” began in 1993 – Ed.).
“Every privilege granted until now is currently being reviewed both on the legal plane and on the internal IPS plane. What is not deserved will not be given… We are looking at the subject of the canteen, we are looking into the books, the newspapers, the television, the visits and even room conditions.”
In a 2008 interview in Maariv
, an IPS official listed some of the privileges
granted to terrorist inmates in Israel. Terrorists are granted three hours a day to wander the premises, he said, where they socialize and play games. The prison provides ping-pong tables, basketball courts, soccer fields and backgammon sets.
Terrorist prisoners receive meat and fish on holidays and are allowed to purchase 1,200 shekels' worth of food each month in the prison canteen, where they can buy more meat, besides soda, candy, cigarettes and similar items. Most prisoners apparently get money to buy luxury items from the terrorist groups they represent, the unnamed official said. They live in "one big summer camp," he summed up glumly.
Franco denied Sunday that prison conditions in Israel are better than in other countries. “Our conditions are not hotel conditions, despite what one might imagine when looking at the photos published in Maariv, as if the prisoners are living in luxurious conditions. If I arranged the plates of ten prisoners who share a single cell on the table, it would look as if they are readying for a feast, but that is not the situation.”
Franco noted that there are, on average, two square meters of cell space per prisoner.
Franco did not deny that the changes in conditions are connected with an attempt to pressure Hamas regarding Gilad Shalit, but noted that the process of re-examining conditions had begun under his predecessor, Benny Kanyak.
Laws have been introduced
and committees established
in the past, with the purpose of limiting terrorists' conditions. Yet, the party goes on. The main factor working against the worsening of conditions is the belief, within the IPS, that if prisoners riot and the wardens are forced to use violence against them in response, subsequent committees of investigation will not give the wardens any moral or legal support.