(May 28, 2018 / Israel Hayom) Israel’s Public Security Minister, Strategic Affairs and Information Minister Gilad Erdan has instructed Israel Prison Service Commissioner Ofra Klinger to prevent Hamas operatives jailed in Israeli prisons from watching the upcoming World Cup soccer championship.
Erdan issued the directive in coordination with the special negotiator for hostages and prisoners of war, Yaron Blum, in an effort to turn up the pressure on the terrorist organization over its holding of Israeli bodies and captives. Hamas is holding the remains of two Israeli soldiers—Golani Brigade’s Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul and Givati Brigade’s Lt. Hadar Goldin—who were killed in the 2014 conflict in Gaza, as well as holding two mentally challenged Israeli civilians—Ethiopian-Israeli Avera Mengistu and Bedouin Hisham al-Sayed—who crossed into Gaza voluntarily in 2014 and 2015. The fate of Jumaa Abu Ghanima, an Israeli who crossed the border into Gaza in 2016, remains unknown.
The directive runs contrary to the Israel Prison Service’s position that all prisoners should be permitted to watch the games.
Erdan met with legal authorities on Sunday to examine the options for changing the existing regulations to prevent security prisoners from watching specific television channels.
Israel Prison Service officials told Israel Hayom last week that various parties have attempted to exploit the suffering of bereaved families to make similar demands in the past.
In 2016, the High Court of Justice rejected a petition submitted by Oron Shaul’s family to prevent Hamas terrorists imprisoned in Israel from watching the UEFA European Championship.
“Watching the World Cup, as with any other program, is preferable to watching a Muslim religious show,” one official said.
According to prison officials, television serves as a tool to help maintain peace in the prison, particularly among security prisoners, and is a privilege that can be revoked if necessary.
The directive is the latest in a series of steps led by Erdan in recent years in efforts to pressure Hamas, including withholding family visits from prisoners, holding terrorists’ bodies as leverage and whittling prisoners’ privileges down to the absolute minimum required by international law.
“We have no intention of allowing Hamas terrorists to watch the World Cup championship while our soldiers’ bodies are being held hostage in Gaza together with our kidnapped citizens,” said Erdan. “Those who have removed themselves from the family of nations and cleave to a culture of terrorism and murder do not deserve to enjoy an international sporting competition that brings nations together.”