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Ben-Gvir revokes early release for Palestinian prisoners

Far-right minister Ben-Gvir revokes early release policy for Palestinian prisoners
3 min read
31 July, 2023
The latest move is part of a wider policy by Itamar Ben-Gvir to worsen conditions for Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails, who are subject to discriminatory policies and abuse.
Ben-Gvir, a far-right provocateur, has a history of racist incitement against Palestinians [Getty]

Israel's extreme right Minister of Public Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, has revoked a policy allowing for the early release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons, local media reported on Sunday.

Ben-Gvir made an amendment to the law concerning administrative release of Palestinian prisoners, which permitted the early release of detainees due to lack of space in Israeli prisons, according to Channel 7.

The Israeli outlet said Ben-Gvir’s latest action is part of a move to increase hardship for Palestinian detainees, who are frequently on the receiving end of mistreatment and abuse in Israeli jails.

Adalah, an NGO which advocates for the rights of Palestinians in Israel, criticised the move and accused Ben-Gvir of contributing to the increase in prison overcrowding, reported the Turkish Anadolu website.

A ruling issued by the Israeli Supreme Court in 2017 stipulates that the state "must provide each 'security prisoner'" with a living space of 4.5 square metres, including a shower and toilet, or 4 metres without these inclusions.

There are fears that Ben-Gvir's move will deprive Palestinian prisoners of this bare minimum by increasing overcrowding.

The far-right minister said he is seeking to worsen the lives of  what he called "terrorists" in Israel’s prisons, adding that there’s "still more to do."

The amendment made by Ben Gvir is an administrative procedure reportedly within his powers and does not require the approval of the Knesset.

Since becoming security minister, Ben-Gvir has tried to introduce a number of sanctions on Palestinian prisoners. In February this year, it was reported that the minister sought to limit shower times for Palestinian prisoners.

Ben-Gvir, who has a history of making inflammatory and racist comments about Palestinians, imposed a four-minute showering period on Palestinian detainees, as a part of a move to rid of what he called "luxury conditions" for Palestinians in Israeli jails.

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The extreme-right politician has also called for the death penalty for prisoners accused of being involved in armed resistance, an increase in the use of solitary confinement as well as invasive searches of prisoners.

Additionally, Ben-Gvir has barred Palestinian prisoners from receiving dental and medical treatment, and has halted the operation of bakeries for them.

Over 4,500 Palestinian detainees are currently held in Israeli prisons according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club (PCC), where conditions have become increasingly difficult under Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right leadership. Around 500 are held in "administrative detention" without charge or trial.

The harsh conditions have prompted many hunger strikes and protests among Palestinians.