Hamas terrorist prisoners incarcerated in Israeli prisons have declared a hunger strike set for Monday “to protest the prison management.”
Riyadh al-Ashqar, Information Director for Hamas' Ministry of Prisoner Affairs told reporters Sunday evening the strike will also protest the fact that “many of the movement's leaders were transferred to separate, solitary confinement.”
The strike comes following an announcement that special privileges to Hamas inmates are about to end.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made the announcement Sunday at the weekly Cabinet meeting. “That party is over,” Netanyahu said.
Under the plan, telephone calls and family visits will be reduced, and higher education privileges are to be revoked. Those prisoners who have already started to earn a degree will reportedly be allowed to finish it.
Hamas inmates will be separated from each other through placement in different facilities. If located in the same facility, they will be placed in separate wings and not in adjacent cells, or allowed to share the same cell. Some will be placed in solitary confinement. Such a move will also reduce the ability of the prisoners to organize.
In addition, Hamas prisoners will only receive meat meals once or twice a week under the new plan. This is considered a major hardship in Arab culture. Hamas prisoners will also no longer be allowed to collectively buy food to add to their prison fare, such as meat, chicken and other vegetables – a common practice that until this point has been allowed. Special canteen privileges will be curtailed as well.
“Israel has no obligation [to terrorist prisoners] beyond that delineated by Israeli law, international law, and international treaties,” Netanyahu pointed out during last Thursday's President's Conference.
The new rules are Israel's response to the terrorist organization's unwillingness to conclude a deal to free kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who has been held captive by Hamas for five years.
No one has been allowed to have any contact with Shalit, abducted by members of Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committees and Army of Islam terrorist groups on June 25, 2006 – including representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in violation of international law. The ICRC is now demanding proof from Hamas that the 24-year-old soldier is still alive. His condition and whereabouts remain unknown.
Israeli MK Danny Danon (Likud) responded to Hamas prisoners' anger Sunday evening, noting, “After five years that Gilad Shalit has been in captivity, we are [finally] speaking in a language that Hamas understands.
“This strike proves to everyone that the exaggerated benefits for terrorists held in Israeli jails are important to them and their leaders,” Danon added.