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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Israel to punish prisoners over Shalit

Thu, 19 Mar 2009 08:03:07 GMT | PressTV

At least 11,500 Palestinians, including women and children, are suffering under harsh conditions in Israeli prisons.
A special ministerial committee in Israel is considering to tighten the screws on Palestinian prisoners in a bid to release of Gilad Shalit.

Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appointed the committee, headed by Israeli Justice Minister Daniel Friedman, on Tuesday after the Cairo-mediated talks between Israel and Hamas failed to strike a prisoner swap deal.

The swap deal would see the release of Israeli soldier Shalit held by Gaza fighters since June 2006, in exchange for over a thousand Palestinian prisoner, whose names were handed to Tel Aviv.

The committee decided to create work teams to "examine the reduction of the privileges of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners," the ministry said in a statement.

Among the steps being considered are limiting cash transfers to prisoners, restricting their access to television and radio, reducing visiting rights and opportunities for education as well as limiting contact between the prisoners.

Another measure is further tightening Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip, the ministry said.

Although the act itself is a direct violation to the International Law, the ministerial committee is weighing the needed measures to practice pressure on detainees of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad Movements, Israel's Ynet News reported.

Further discussions and considerations are still needed and the committee intends to conclude its decision within two weeks. However, it is already authorized to carry certain measures immediately.

The Public Committee against Torture in Israel urged Justice Minister Friedman and Israel's Attorney General, Menahim Mazuz, to dissolve this committee as it constitutes a form of collective punishment and imposed "unequal and illegal punishment", Ynet added.

This week after the failure of the Egypt-mediated prisoners swap deal between Israel and Hamas Israel claimed that Hamas had toughened its stance on exchanging 1,450 of Palestinian prisoners for captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.

Hamas, however, denied that it had changed its stance, while describing the Israeli claims as 'political maneuver'.

At least 11,500 Palestinians, including women and children, are suffering under harsh conditions in Israeli prisons.

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