'We aren't giving terrorists free college degrees, that's a lie'

Internal Security Minister denies claims terrorists receive benefits in Israeli jails, including chance to take college classes for free.

Ido Ben Porat,

Gilad Erdan
Gilad Erdan
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

MK Miki Zohar (Likud) called upon Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) to respond to claims that terrorists held in Israeli jails were enjoying a wide variety of benefits, including the ability to take college correspondence school courses at the taxpayer’s expense.

Zohar asked whether Israel could limit some benefits to jailed terrorists, including visitation rights, given that Hamas extends no such benefits to Israelis held captive in the Gaza Strip.

“Could the principle of reciprocity be applied here? If they don’t let us visit captives, maybe we could stop letting them have primary [immediate family] visits?”

Erdan responded Wednesday, saying that Israel was obligated to uphold international standards for the treatment of prisoners, while Hamas, a terror organization, did not observe such requirements.

“Hamas is a terror organization, and is not bound by international law. You can’t make a comparison between [Israel] and a terror group.”

The minister agreed that Israel should reduce benefits wherever possible for jailed terrorists, but added that few such benefits are given that not required by international law.

“We need to work to reduce [the benefits], but we are limited by the Attorney General, and [terrorists] can file appeals with the Supreme Court against any decision.”

Erdan also claimed that contrary to popular opinion, the prison facilities housing terrorists are not ‘luxury hotels’.

“The starting off point is that standards of imprisonment [in Israel] are in keeping with international law. We don’t give out benefits. The terrorists’ situation is very unpleasant. Terrorists don’t get telephones, they don’t have the right to get a higher education in any program and get no leaves from prison. They don’t get visitors from [extended family or friends], and there are other limitations [on them].”

“We decided that we won’t negotiate with them,” Erdan said, regarding a recent hunger strike by jailed terrorists and demands for increased benefits. “Knesset Members can check it [for themselves] and see that, clearly, there are no luxuries here, and it’s all lies.”