Jerusalem, Oct. 17 – Israel is expected to release 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, with the first tranche of inmates being freed over the next 24 hours.
Shalit was locked away by Iran-backed Hamas in Gaza for five-and-a-half years without visits from the International Committee of Red Cross,in breach of international law.
At the same time the Palestinians held in Israeli jails received everything in accordance with international law and much more in addition, the former prison commissioner Orit Adato told The Israel Project.
The Red Cross visits the Palestinian prisoners on a regular basis and writes reports where necessary. If the organization sees problems in the treatment of prisoners it raises the issue with the jail’s management team, said Israel Prison Service (IPS) Spokesman Ian Dominitz.
“They are held in very good conditions in accordance with all international conventions including the Geneva Convention even though they are not even classed as prisoners of war,” said Adato.
The prisoners have access to books, newspapers, 10 TV channels (four in Arabic), radio and receive vouchers to spend in prison minimarkets.
“The conditions of the prisoners are governed by law and the regulations of IPS,” said Dominitz.
“They have rights and privileges,” he added.
Of the 270 inmates studying for degrees at Open University, a program that enables continuing education, at the end of 2010, the vast majority were Palestinians and Israeli Arabs serving time for links to terrorism.
The most popular courses are Introduction to the History of the Middle East in Modern Times; Genocide; Basic Concepts in International Relations; Israeli Arab Society; and Islam: Introduction to the History of the Religion, according to Israel’s Prison Service.
An item in the Palestinian daily Al-Hayyat Al-Jadida (Oct. 9, 2010) spoke of Palestinian prisoners gaining masters degrees and doctorates while in Israeli jails.