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Far-right Israeli minister to scrap rule allowing lawmakers to visit Palestinian prisoners

Israeli minister Itamar Ben Gvir

Far-right Israeli minister Itamar Ben-Gvir says he plans to cancel regulations that allow any lawmaker to meet with Palestinian prisoners held in the regime’s jails.

Ben-Gvir made the announcement in a statement on Sunday, saying he has informed the Knesset of his intention to return to an older protocol, according to which only one legislator from each party will be allowed to visit the Palestinian prisoners under strict supervision, Palestine’s official Wafa news agency reported.  

The far-right minister claimed he had taken the step after “concluding that these visits resulted in incitement and the promotion of terrorist actions,” without providing any evidence. “I believe that meetings between Knesset lawmakers and security prisoners can give those prisoners a boost.”

“It’s time to stop the rewards” for the Palestinian resistance fighters held in Israeli jails, he said.

On Thursday, the far-right Israeli minister paid a visit to the Nafha Prison, which is located in the southern part of the occupied territories. The prison holds Palestinians found by the regime to be guilty of "security offenses," a term which is applied by Tel Aviv to describe Palestinian resistance operations.

Ben-Gvir said he had visited the recently-renovated facility to "ensure" that the Palestinians incarcerated there "are not getting better conditions as a result of the construction of new cells." 

“And I was glad to see that the Israel Prison Service does not intend to improve their holding conditions.”

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas condemned the visit, calling it "a dangerous escalation."

The controversial visit came two days after Ben-Gvir, in a provocative move, stepped into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied city of al-Quds, sparking widespread condemnation. Ben Gvir himself has been convicted several times for supporting a Jewish terror group and for incitement to racism against Arabs and non-Jews. He was sworn in as Israeli minister of "security" in late December, as part of the occupying regime’s new far-right cabinet, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


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