Jerusalem24 – As polar winds brought in a storm, many parts of the Palestinian territories have been blanketed by snow. Snow also covered the city of Jerusalem as well. While several people celebrated the snowfall taking a day off, Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons are facing the cold with very little to keep them warm.
The Israeli Prison Service, or Shabas, which is responsible for Israel’s different prisons; had prohibited the families of Palestinian prisoners from sending their family members needs like blankets, clothing and other items to help with the winter. In a phone call with Qadoura Fares, the head of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, confirmed the IPS policy. He said, “the Israeli Prison Service began making it difficult for families to send warm clothes to the detained Palestinians, under the excuse that these clothes are being used to smuggle phone sim-cards and other things. This led to the IPS to stop the entry of these things almost completely.”
Palestinians who have been to an Israeli prison often spoke of the cold winters, and how the prison buildings lack the necessary infrastructure. Fares adds that “the winter season is difficult due to the nature of the prison buildings and the lack of heating and high humidity and so on.”
The Palestinian Prisoners Club (PPC), an independent, non-governmental, Palestinian organization, works to assist and support the thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. The club operates in variety of ways, ranging from legal aid to political action to call for the release of the prisoners. One of the aspects of the club’s activities is to help facilitate the delivery of the prisoners’ needs in winter. However, Fares expressed the club’s frustrations, “in previous years we used to succeed in allowing one or two prisons to receive a quantity of the prisoners’ needs, but this year we couldn’t succeed in allowing anything in.”
The IPS states that it has provided alternatives for the prisoners’ needs inside their prisons, alternatives that were slammed by the PPC. “They compensate them by offering needs that you can buy from the prison canteen, The good and excellent blankets we have we may be priced at 150 shekels. In the canteen the price can reach 500 shekels, which is an expense that drains the family and the prisoner,” says Fares. According to the PPC, the prices in the canteen can be double of what they are outside prison, in addition to that they lack the quality expected. Fares offered further criticism of the IPS’s canteen policies, “this does not help the new detainees, there are daily arrests. The detainee who has been there longer will donate what they have to their new colleague, thus there will be a shortage for everyone.”
When questioned why the IPS does this, Fares states that “Israel is trying to make life difficult for the prisoners. I heard Netanyahu more than once saying that he wants to make life difficult for the prisoners.” He also added that, “making life difficult for the prisoners in all areas is a program. The seasons are coming and being exploited.”