Palestinian security prisoners, angry over changes to their living conditions, have threatened to go on a hunger strike starting on Friday if Israel does not meet their demands.
“We address these words to you as we enter the second week of our struggle to face the war that [National Security Minister Itamar] Ben-Gvir is waging against us, for our most basic rights of bread and water,” the prisoners said in a statement.
Last week, Palestinian prisoners sent a letter to Ben-Gvir and the Israeli press warning of bloodshed if any changes are made to their living conditions.
Ben-Gvir recently tightened restrictions on security prisoners. The minister ordered showering time reduced to four minutes per terrorist prisoner with a total of one hour of running water for each wing where terrorists are held.
In early February, he also ordered the closure of prison bakeries where security prisoners made themselves fresh pita.
Although security prisoners, a term generally referring to Palestinians held for nationalistically motivated attacks or membership in terrorist groups, said they were being denied basic rights, a 2019 report found that they were enjoying perks above and beyond what ordinary criminal prisoners received.
Among their benefits were millions of shekels’ worth of special food for Islamic holidays, an expensive TV in every cell, a ping-pong table and games, workout machines, unlimited newspapers and generous family visitation rights, according to details obtained by Israeli NGO Im Tirtzu.
Matan Peleg, CEO of Im Tirtzu, and Maor Tzemach, chairman of NGO Lech Yerushalayim, issued a joint statement on news of the planned hunger strike:
“We don’t know of any country in the world that allows murderous terrorists to make announcements to the media and incite the region from prison. After years of doing nothing, it is very important that Minister Ben-Gvir rocks the boat. The Katabi Committee recommendations must be implemented immediately. This is a good time to end the terrorist summer camps in prison!”
The Katabi Committee, established in 2018, recommended ending the autonomy of Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails, under which they essentially manage their own affairs.