Photo Credit: Mark Neiman / GPO
President Reuven Rivlin visiting Israel Prison Service personnel at Ofer Prison

President Reuven Rivlin told members of the senior command during a visit to Ofer Prison on Monday that Hamas is working just as hard to destroy the State of Israel from within the prisons, as it is outside them.

Rivlin visited the prison to express his support for the Israel Prison Service in light of recent tension with security prisoners in various prisons over tightened measures following a terror attack within Ketziot Prison.

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“The term ‘prison warder’ can be misleading,” Rivlin observed. “You are brave servicemen and women on the front line, along with the security forces. You, not the prison walls, are what keep us safe.

“Terrorism in prison is part of Hamas’ efforts to harm Israel, just as rockets and incendiary kites are. As always, the State of Israel will not allow terrorism to dictate the agenda, and will fight it relentlessly.”

Rivlin met with Acting Commander of the Prison Service Commissioner Asher Vaknin and the senior command staff, who escorted the president on a tour of the facility.

The president was briefed by Comissioner Vaknin about the IPS preparations for the likely hunger strike of security prisoners. Following this, the president was shown a demonstration of the operational capability of the IPS’s Metzada unit, responsible for controlling outbreaks of violence and disorder in detention facilities. Rivlin then met the staff of the prison, who were joined by Superintendent Sagi Shiluan, a duty officer at Ketziot Prison who was stabbed in the neck by a security prisoner some two weeks ago. The president heard from the warders about the dilemmas and the challenges they face in working with terrorists, and wished Superintendent Sagi a speedy recovery and an easy birth to his wife, who is expecting a baby soon.

“The Israel Police Service is a determined organization and its warders are experienced in the uncompromising fight against crime and terrorism within prisons,” Vaknin said.

“The staff in these facilities are trained and skilled in working with this population, both in normal situations and when tension is high. Warders in security prisons are on the front line and are in daily contact with the prisoners. I am proud of their professionalism, bravery and determination, as well as their patience and steadfastness in facing the challenges that this tense period presents.”

Ofer Prison is a jail for security detainees and prisoners, located close to Jerusalem and next to the Ofer Military Court. The staff of Ofer Prison deal with many sophisticated attempts at smuggling prohibited items into the jail, such as mobile phones and written material with messages from terror organizations.

Recently, the IPS has begun a pilot of installing devices that block mobile phone signals, as a result of which the prisoners are protesting, including setting fires and attacking warders, and have announced an open-ended hunger strike led by Hamas prisoners.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.