Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he will toughen conditions for Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons in response to Hamas’s refusal to allow the International Red Cross access to detained Israeli captive Gilad Shalit or give proof that he is still alive. Speaking at the Presidential Conference at Jerusalem he said that the party is over for Palestinians convicted of terrorism in Israeli jails. ‘I have decided to change Israel’s treatment of terrorists sitting in prison. We will give them all that they deserve according to international law but nothing beyond that,’ he said.
One such measure Netanyahu would take, according to his speech, is the scrapping of academic studies for those committed on terrorism charges. The Israeli PM said there would be no more ‘doctorates of terrorism’.
In March 2009 a committee, headed by then Israeli Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, advocated worsening Hamas prisoners conditions by limiting family visits, denying physical contact, banning television, radio and newspapers, and changing legislation to prevent administrative release and lawyer visits.
The move comes in response to Hamas’s refusal to allow the Red Cross access to Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was captured in 2006 and has been held in a secret location since then. Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Salah Bardawil, said that ‘Israel is trying to use some of the international organizations to cover for its heinous crimes of arresting thousands of Palestinians and preventing them from seeing their loves ones and murdering them under torture while causing a stir using the Red Cross’
The Shalit family have dismissed the proposal saying that it was too little to late. Naom Shalit, Gilad’s father, said that ‘Israeli governments failed to pressure Hamas for five years and therefore it is doubtful they will know how to do this today.’