Hunger-Striking Jewish Prisoner Abruptly Transferred
(IsraelNN.com) The Israel Prison Service has responded to Jewish security prisoner Ofer Gamliel's hunger-strike by abruptly transferring him to another prison.
The General Security Service's Jewish department has been very heavily involved in the case, and is likely behind this latest move as well.
Gamliel, father of seven, has served nearly 6.5 years of a 15-year-sentence with no vacations. He was convicted of his role in an aborted bombing of an Arab school in Jerusalem in 2002. He and his two co-defendants from Bat Ayin claimed the bomb was never meant to go off, but rather to instill fear in the Arab community.
Gamliel began hunger-striking nine days ago in protest of the refusal to grant him any vacation days, while Arab and other prisoners receive them regularly, and in protest of the fact that his release is not being entertained, while Arab terrorists are released periodically as goodwill gestures to the Palestinian Authority.
Gamliel's wife met with Public Security Minister Avi Dichter several months ago, and reported afterwards that he told her, "The truth is that we don't have as much of an interest in releasing your husband and the Jewish security prisoners as we do in releasing the Arabs."
Yisrael Medad, head of the Honenu civil rights organization, said, "If people want their voice to be heard, they should fax Dichter at +972-2-530-8039, as well as the one man who can order their release - President Shimon Peres, at +972-2-5611033."
Gamliel: To Solitary, and Now to Be'er Sheva
A few days after beginning the strike, Gamliel was transferred to solitary confinement - where he continued to refuse to eat. The authorities have now added another punitive measure, transferring him to a prison in Be'er Sheva.
Gamliel has filed an appeal in the Tel Aviv District Court against the transfer. The move to Be'er Sheva has separated him from religious prisoners and from the synagogue in Ayalon Prison in Ramle.
Protest Tent Continues
Supporters of Gamliel and other Jewish security prisoners are manning a protest tent outside Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem. They wish to draw attention to the plight of Gamliel and other Jewish prisoners who are not allowed vacations - while Arab prisoners are permitted to visit their homes for Ramadan and the like, and sometimes even released en-masse.
The Shabak (GSS) claims they are hiding information on other Jewish conspiracies, and invariably tell judges that "every minute they are out of jail represents a danger to the State of Israel."
Supreme Court Refuses to Veto GSS
About a year ago, Tel Aviv Judge David Rosen ruled that the danger presented by Gamliel is not different than those presented by prisoners who are allowed vacations, and that he must therefore be allowed a short vacation outside prison. The GSS protested the ruling to the Supreme Court, which accepted the appeal.
Gamliel protested and appealed the overturning of the decision, but Supreme Court Judge Uzi Fogelman rejected his appeal and upheld the no-vacations policy. Gamliel then applied to the Supreme Court for a re-hearing, but Justice Eliezer Rivlin turned him down.
Realizing that as far as the authorities are concerned, he is destined to spend the next 8.5 years in prison without ever leaving, Gamliel decided to begin his hunger strike.
At the same time, the public struggle on his behalf and on behalf of the other Jewish security prisoners continues. The Council of Prisoners' Families stated, "Transferring Gamliel is part of the attempt to break the spirit of the Jewish prisoners, in addition to not releasing them or allowing them vacations. This decision stems from petty one-upmanship of small-minded individuals who prefer to see Jews rot in jail while terrorists go free."