Israel’s prison population is ‘overpopulated’ with 15,000 detainees

Israeli forces outside Ofer prison in the West Bank on 12 July 2021 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]
Israeli forces outside Ofer prison in the West Bank on 12 July 2021

The number of prisoners in Israeli detention facilities increased by 900 between February and May, to approximately 15,000, reported Haaretz.

The drastic spike is mainly due to increased arrests in Arab communities as well as a decline in early releases after the Knesset imposed harsher conditions for such cases.

As a result of the surge in detainee numbers, prisoners are now overpopulated and do not comply with a 2017 High Court ruling, which requires the state to allot each prisoner minimal living space.

There were 13,600 inmates at the end of 2022, 14,084 in February and 14,961 last week, according to information obtained by NGO Hatzlacha from the prison authority.

Professor Oren Gazal-Ayal, an expert in criminal law, said 40 per cent of the prison population consists of detainees who have not yet been convicted, up from 30 per cent four years ago.

READ: Israel interrogators sleep-deprived, tortured Palestinian detainee, Shin Bet review finds

Another reason for the increase is new restrictions preventing the release of prisoners before the end of their term. “The restriction stems mainly from the fact that the Knesset this year banned the early release of prisoners convicted of serious violence, domestic violence and sex offenses,” added Gazal-Ayal told Haaretz.

According to recent statistics, more than 4,500 Palestinian and Arab prisoners are being held in Israeli prisons for resisting the occupation.

In recent years, Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention have launched multiple protests to demand better conditions, including an end to the unjustified Israeli policy of raiding prisoners’ cells.

The Israel Prison Service said that it is “doing all it can to contribute to the struggle against crime and maintaining security for the residents of Israel. Naturally, the large number of arrests ends up at the door of the Israel Prisons Service, which must provide a response in its facilities. It is difficult to anticipate the number of prisoners and detainees who will be absorbed by the service. But we are investing major efforts in complying with the High Court ruling.”

(Source / 19.05.2022)

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