BY KHALED TAYEH
EVER since Israeli Jewish supremacist Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, became officially a part of the new Israeli far-right government, he made it a mission as holy as a promise to impose new sanctions on Palestinians, to make their lives even more miserable than it already is due to the Israeli occupation.
Ben-Gvir was sworn in as Israeli Minister of National Security at the end of 2022, becoming a key member of Israel’s most racist, far-right government coalition ever led by long-running prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The new racist minister is known for publicly advocating for dividing the holy site of al-Aqsa Mosque – which is the third holiest Muslim place of worship – between Muslims and Jews, a move that is likely to inflame an already tense situation in the Israeli-occupied territories.
On January 3rd, only a few days after Ben-Gvir took his new position, as a first provocative move, he stormed the compounds of the holy mosque in the occupied city of Jerusalem under heavy protection from the Israeli forces.
Moreover, Ben-Gvir’s malice has gone far, negatively affecting and dangerously impacting the living conditions of the Palestinian freedom fighters incarcerated in Israel for their resistance of the occupation, whom he calls ‘terrorists’.
One of Ben-Gvir’s publicly stated goals is to make sure that ‘murderers of Jews don’t get better conditions’, referring to the 4,500 Palestinian freedom fighters serving time in Israeli jails for their resistance of the occupation.
To begin with, he announced that he is planning to cancel regulations that allow any lawmaker to meet with the imprisoned Palestinian freedom fighters.
In a statement, Ben-Gvir said he had informed the Speaker of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, Amir Ohana, that he intends to return to an older protocol, according to which only one lawmaker from each faction will be allowed to visit the Palestinian prisoners, provided that visits be held under strict supervision.
Earlier to the announcement, Ben Gvir visited the recently renovated high-security Nafha Prison to review the imprisonment conditions of the Palestinian political prisoners and to ensure these conditions never improve.
To begin with, Israeli media said that he ‘went crazy’ after learning that prisoners run their own bakeries inside Israeli prisons to make their own bread and ordered the immediate closure of all Palestinian prisoners-run bakeries in jails in Israel.
‘Prisoners cannot get such a privilege. How can they get fresh bread every day?’ Ben-Gvir was quoted.
The Israeli Ministerial Committee also ordered to stop the welfare payments made by the Palestinian government to the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, and to the families of those killed by Israeli occupation forces in 2022.
Ben-Gvir’s hateful measures have caused the prisoners to revolt and plan a hunger strike to preserve what they have achieved through years of battles against the Israeli Prison Services (IPS).
The Palestinian Commission for Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs and the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said in a joint statement that Palestinian prisoners in Nafha Prison declared mutiny against the new repressive measures by disrupting the so-called security checks as well as the requirement to wear the brown uniforms given to them by the IPS.
The prisoners are also planning to go on an open-ended hunger strike set to start the first day of Ramadan, which will start around March 24, in protest against Ben-Gvir’s extreme measures against them.