Photo Credit: TPS
Gilboa Prison

PA Arab terrorists in Israeli jails began a campaign of disobedience on Thursday and threatened to launch a mass hunger strike during Ramadan against measures taken by Israeli Prison Service in recent days.

But a former senior commander told the Tazpit Press Service that an initiative by Public Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir may be about more than just reducing shower times and closing prison bakeries.


In recent days, Ben-Gvir instructed prison officials to provide one hour of running water in each wing after prisoners were found to be deliberately wasting thousands of liters of water by letting showers and faucet taps run for hours at a time. Ben-Gvir also ordered the closure of bakeries inside the Ketziot and Nafha prisons which provided prisoners with fresh pita bread.

Other steps reportedly being discussed include limiting family visits, halting the sale of certain foods and items in the canteens, and restricting families from sending clothes to prisoners.

Dozens of prisoners were recently moved from the Hadarim Prison in central Israel to the Nafha Prison in the Negev, and Palestinian sources told TPS they are concerned that Ben-Gvir plans to break up the prison organizations.

Yishai Fleisher, an advisor to Ben-Gvir, told the Tazpit Press Service, “Terrorists who murder and maim for jihadist and Israel-hating reasons should not expect a fun and rewarding life filled with fresh pitas, entertainment, and university courses waiting for them. Israeli prison should be a form of deterrence, and not a reward.”

The Status Quo

The former senior Israeli Prison Service commander explained to TPS that “the main goal is quiet” for both prison officials and the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet).

“The Shin Bet wants quiet, minimum energy in dealing with the prisoners, so this is also giving up values ​​and budget,” he said.

The former commander said that the Shin Bet operates in prisons by appointing a handful of prisoners as leaders. The Shin Bet and guards then deal with the prisoners through these leaders. The status quo is that regular prisoners and guards cannot talk to each other without one of the prisoner leaders being a middleman. According to the source, the leaders benefit from this arrangement by getting perks which are often spread to other prisoners, and the Shin Bet benefits by getting quiet.

“This is a fundamentally rotten system,” he said.

“Conditions given to them in the wings – there are 10-15 cells around a courtyard, and a room assigned to be a supermarket. They have a supermarket. Fresh fruit, huge apples, metal cans. A box like this turns into a knife in a second. Meat, fresh breads, whole trucks of bread every day,” the source said. “Illusory conditions it’s unbelievable. Beyond the food, they have the supermarket that has everything good. Sweets everything.”

“The rooms – when you enter the room you see a jungle – everyone has half a house there – clothes pots pans stoves for cooking, everything is crowded with so many things they can hide many things – make knives toothbrushes, cans, cell phones. You don’t know where to start looking,” he said.

“There is a special unit that takes everything out and dismantles the room to dig through the piles of garbage to find the things they managed to hide. If they didn’t give them all these conditions – but only clothes, it would be easier to find things.”

The former commander praised Ben-Gvir’s measures but stressed that the status quo between the prisoners and guards is “the root of the problem.”

Ben-Gvir’s measures “will cause a lot of noise – but in the end it will have an effect,” he said.

Disobedience and Hunger Strike

PA Arab sources told TPS that the approximately 4,800 PA Arabs will collectively refuse to cooperate with prison officials by not obeying orders, locking themselves in their cells, refusing to let guards search their cells, and not wearing prison uniforms.

The Ramadan hunger strike, if it happens, would be the largest mass hunger strike staged by the terrorists, with prisoners affiliated with Fatah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terror groups participating.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast during daylight hours and break their fast at sundown. The hunger striking prisoners will not eat at night either. Ramadan begins at sundown on March 22.

“For the first time since 2004, an agreement has been reached by all the Palestinian factions, in the PA territories, Gaza and abroad, and even inside the prisons, according to which the strike must be held and the prisoners taken back,” a very senior Palestinian Authority official told TPS.

Baruch Yedid contributed to this report.

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