Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg sent a letter to Internal Security Minister Omer Barlev and the Israel Prison Service demanding they “stop terrorists’ world cup viewing parties.”
Security prisoners in Israel enjoy many rights, including family visits, Red Cross visits, receiving books, magazines, and letters, purchasing products in the prison’s canteen, and watching television. According to the Lavi organization, the price of the TV set located in every security prisoner’s cell is NIS 480 ($138). Hamas prisoners get five channels, while Fatah prisoners get ten.
“Four and a half years ago, the Minister of Internal Security at the time, Gilad Erdan, forbade terrorists behind bars from watching the games. It was announced in the media that despite the ban, in practice the ban only existed for Hamas terrorists––Fatah terrorists were allowed to watch, and the Hamas prisoners also managed to bypass the ban and watch the games,” Peleg wrote Barlev. “There is no disputing that those who choose the path of terrorism should not enjoy the most important sports competitions in the world. When the bodies of killed IDF soldiers and living Israeli civilians are being held captive by Hamas, and while Fatah, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and others are trying every day to murder Israeli citizens and soldiers, it is absolutely forbidden to allow them to enjoy watching the World Cup.”
Peleg noted: “We are contacting you to make sure that the procedure of not watching the games will also take place during the upcoming World Cup, but this time it will apply to all terrorists in prisons and not only to Hamas prisoners. Also, a freedom of information request submitted by Im Tirtzu in February 2021 received an explicit statement that there is full supervision of the channels being viewed by security prisoners and their viewing of World Cup games would be banned.”
In 2018, Israel Hayom cited IPS officials who said that “watching the World Cup is better than watching a Muslim religious program,” and suggested TV viewing is as necessary as eating for prisoners.
It should be noted that in Israel, the concession to broadcast all the games from the Qatar tournament is owned by Kan 11, the public channel, and blocking it would also deprive the prisoners of access to mainstream reporting.