Prisoner in jail (illustration)
Prisoner in jail (illustration)iStock

The Israel Prison Service (IPS) has toughened the procedures related to incarcerated terrorists taking pictures inside the prison and the dissemination of such pictures.

The change was made after terrorist Omar al-Jalil, who murdered three members of the Salomon family in the community of Halamish two years ago, was documented last July taking photos with his parents while they were visiting him in prison.

The terrorist's photos came into the hands of Elihai Ben-Yishai, the brother of Ruth Fogel who was murdered along with her husband and three children in a terrorist attack in Itamar in 2011. Ben-Yishai was shocked by the fact that the terrorist was freely taking photos inside the prison and filed a complaint with the IPS.

Following Ben Yishai's complaint, public pressure began on the IPS to change its procedure. Among others, the “Choosing Life” forum of bereaved families appealed to Internal Security Ministry Gilad Erdan and asked that the procedures be tightened.

In addition, the "Im Tirtzu" movement and the Lavi organization sent requests for information to the IPS regarding photography and distribution of images of imprisoned terrorists. The IPS did not agree to provide information regarding the image of the terrorist al-Jalil, but did acknowledge that the IPS does not count the number of photographs taken by the prisoners and does not digitally track them.

It was further said that there is no permanent list of photographers and every request by a photographer is considered by the IPS.

In an update to the rules on security prisoners issued by the IPS earlier this week, it completely changed the procedure for photographing terrorists.

Photos will now be permitted only if one of the terrorist's family members is terminally or seriously ill. In addition, the photography will only be done by an IPS photographer and the terrorist will pay for the photograph. The new procedure prohibits the photo from being taken outside the prison and prohibits taking a photo of the terrorist with his family members.

In addition, the decision on whether to allow the terrorist to be photographed will be made after a discussion of the gravity of the offense and its circumstances, while giving weight to possible harm to the feelings of the public and to the victims of the offense.

The Lavi and “Im Tirtzu” organizations responded to the new procedure and said, "It was shameful seeing the pictures of the terrorists smiling with their families being distributed everywhere. The IPS did well in deciding on new and tougher procedures. While this is only the tip of the iceberg of the benefits the terrorists receive in prisons, the move should be welcomed. We will continue to work to remove the smile from the faces of terrorists. We will not stop until the celebration of corruption in the prisons by those lowly killers has completely ceased."