Prisoners Planning Hunger Strike for More TV

Israel Prison Service on alert for strike being planned for July; prisoners to demand more TV channels, canteen budget.

Tova Dvorin ,

Jail (illustrative)
Jail (illustrative)

The Israel Prisons Service (IPS) are presently preparing for the possibility that towards the end of Ramadan, in July, terrorist prisoners will go on hunger strike to protest their prison conditions.

However, the benefits they are striking for goes beyond the pale of basic living conditions, according to a report released Wednesday.

Among the demands are more television channels and a canteen budget of 200 shekels ($52) per terrorist prisoner, according to Walla! News

Immediately after the abduction and murder of three teenagers Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Sha'ar, and Naftali Frankel, the IPS decided to re-examine the prison conditions of security prisoners.

The results showed that prisoners have living conditions that are too good - 17 TV channels, a large canteen budget, and other incentives which may keep offenders from rehabilitating. 

The outgoing IPS chief, Aharon Franco, and his deputy, Eli Gavison, decided to reduce these benefits to only three TV channels - 1, 2 and 10. It was also decided to reduce the budget given for canteen purchases. 

However, months after the decision was made, the IPS and the Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet) have discovered that there are various attempts from leadership within the prison system to organize a mass protest on the issue. Leaders named include Ahmed Saadat from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Abdullah Barghouti, who just managed to embarrass the IPS when he was interviewed by telephone by a bootleg radio station in Gaza.

Representatives of the prisoners have demanded that the IPS loosen their standards, even partially, by adding more TV channels, allowing more family visits, and more. 

IPS Intelligence and the Shin Bet believe that prisoners will launch a hunger strike towards the end of the month of Ramadan, which opens on Thursday, inter alia, to test the flexibility of the new Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud), as well as the flexibility of the new IPS commissioner expected to be appointed in the upcoming days.