At this time, it is fitting to revisit the subject of the treatment of convicted Islamic terrorists in Israel Prison Service (I.P.S.). As an ex-Israel prison officer, who has also published a book on that subject, I’ve written my thoughts on this topic on numerous occasions.
There is a pointedly critical relevance between the conditions of terrorists in the I.P.S. and the horrific abduction of harmless teenage youth. It is a two-fold issue.
First. Israel is presently expending unlimited amounts of money and manpower searching for these boys. A house-to-house, cave-to-cave - every nook and cranny -- search is now underway in suspected areas of concealment throughout Israel. To date (June 22), a few local Arabs have been killed when they inexplicably attempted to impede this search and rescue mission.
Israeli security utilizes many methods of intelligence gathering. For one, the country has huge numbers of informants seeded within the Arab community. These people have numerous incentives to cooperate. Economic gain is one. Simply, monetary compensation. Another benefit is legal protection. Israel often strikes deals with Arabs convicted of crimes for which punishment is erased in return for favors to the country. In this instance that would be information on the whereabouts of these abducted kids.
However, the reality of things is that pressure always helps. Israel must increase pressure on the Arab community. Pressure jolts information into moving. Intensified pressure gets information into the right hands.
Israel has thousands of convicted Islamic terrorists in tha hands of their prison service. These men and women are living under extraordinarily comfortable conditions which would be unfathomable in any other modern country. Televisions and radios in every cell. Kitchenettes and refrigerators in cell blocks. Frequent family and friend visits. Exercise yards full of equipment such as ping-pong tables, soccer balls, weights. Diet considerations specially tailored to their personal quirks. Rights to furthering their education, including post high school degrees.
One very reasonable argument, which arises regularly in the media and in fact in the Israeli parliament, is that these convicted criminals simply don’t deserve these luxuries. The Israeli prison where I served for over a decade held two hundred terrorists. Most had multiple life sentences. Not a few had over a dozen life sentences! These include men who murdered pregnant women with their own hands. Men who butchered defenseless children and elderly in coldly premeditated attacks in the light of day. Let's be perfectly clear -- these are ruthless criminals.
Beyond that, however, there’s the message being sent to the Arab community at large. That message is: Israel doesn’t punish, even for the most heinous crimes against its citizenship.
By stripping these inmates rights to the bare minimum -- as bestowed by other modern countries -- this damaging message would be corrected. But, more importantly, pressure would be added to their terrorist organizations and personal supporters outside.
Imagine removing radios, televisions, and newspapers from these terrorists. Stop family visits. Remove kitchenettes. Require that these inmates eat government-issued prison food. All together, any of these actions would dramatically increase pressure.
Increasing pressure inside will get more information flowing outside.
The second reason that Israel must curtail the pampering of convicted Islamic terrorists, enjoyed exclusively in its jails, is the message that will be sent to the kidnappers of these three youth.
The abductors, including all the outer circle of conspirators and collaborators, have nothing to fear for their crimes. There is nothing to stop them or future kidnappers from continuing to abduct and harm Israeli citizens.
After all, Israel does not enforce the death sentence, even though it is on the books. Incarceration is pleasant. Cells and cell blocks are shared with comrades in arms. Staff, from the lowest ranking guard to officers, wardens, and even the highest echelon of hierarchy, deal with terrorists professionally and pleasantly. These are the norms.
There are no deterrents to crimes against Israel today.
The fact that thousands of convicted terrorists are released in the ongoing so-called ‘peace’ deals only increases the fact that there is no deterrent to committing crimes against Israel. Even the longest-sentenced terrorists hold plausible hope that they will be released. But that is a subject for a different article.
In short, Israel holds thousands of convicted terrorists in its jails, with the majority serving multiple life sentences. This is a tremendous card to pressure the Arab community. The time is past to use it.
American born and educated, Rabbi Major Fishel Jacobs worked as a staff officer in the Israeli Prison Service for over a decade. His memoir, Coffee Melts Bars - My Israeli Prison Career, is available on iTunes. Jacobs is now retired and spends his time writing and speaking worldwide on his books.
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