Put restrictions on rights of Palestine prisoners or we boycott Israel government: Ben-Gvir says

Middle East Monitor  /  September 14, 2023

Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir announced yesterday that his far-right Otzma Yehudit Party would withhold its support for the coalition government until it actions his request to restrict visitation rights for Palestinian prisoners.

The boycott is in response to the Prime Minister’s Office stating yesterday at a meeting that there would be no changes regarding the “security prisoners” until after a discussion in October.

“In light of the discussion in the cabinet, they understand that the issue of the visits has been postponed, and this has taken some of the sting out of a general strike,” security officials told Israel Hayom news outlet.

Ben-Gvir responded with an attack on those who attended the meeting. “You all always bring up the Temple Mount [Al-Aqsa Mosque Sanctuary], prisoners and consolidating fronts. Every time it is forbidden to touch the prisoners because it can cause agitation, so their conditions must never be changed.”

Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported last week that Ben-Gvir ordered a reduction in family visits for Palestinian prisoners from the occupied West Bank from once a month to once every two months.

In response, the Supreme National Emergency Committee of the National Captive Movement announced that Palestinian prisoners would go on a hunger strike starting today.

Palestinian factions and organizations specializing in prisoner affairs have condemned the decision, with the Mohjat al-Quds Foundation for the Martyrs saying that targeting prisoners’ visits is a “humanitarian crime and an escalation of the war against them.”

While the Wa’ed Association for Prisoners and Liberated Prisoners described Ben-Gvir’s decision as “Extremely racist and reflects the extent of his insistence on igniting the scene inside the prisons.”

Hamas condemned the “open-ended Israeli war on prisoners inside their jails,” a statement said.

“Despite the open-ended war being waged against Palestinian detainees by the Israeli occupation government, their rock-solid will remains unshaken,” member of Hamas’ Political Bureau, Zaher Jabarin, said.