Itamar Ben-Gvir appeared to boast about squalid conditions in prison, in remarks observers have called an admission that Israel is running concentration camps.

Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has reiterated his call for Palestinian prisoners to be executed, amid a spat with Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service on the state of Israel’s prisons.

The far-right minister took to X to respond to Shin Bet accusations that the government had ignored months of warnings about prison overcrowding with at least 21,000 Palestinian detainees held since 7 October.

“Since I assumed the position of Minister of National Security, one of the highest goals I have set for myself is to worsen the conditions of the terrorists in the prisons, and to reduce their rights to the minimum required by law,” Ben-Gvir said.

The minister appeared to boast about the squalid conditions Palestinians are kept in, in remarks some observers have called an open admission that Israel is running concentration camps.

“Everything published about the abominable conditions” of Palestinians in Israeli jails “was true”, Ben-Gvir said, boasting that he had reduced food and shower times for prisoners, removed electrical devices, and stopped financial deposits.

Addressing the issue of overcrowding, the minister said that new prisons were being built, but that his proposed policy of executing prisoners would solve the issue.

“I have already proposed a much simpler solution, of enacting the death penalty for terrorists, which would solve the overcrowding issue – legislation to which the Shin Bet is also vehemently opposed,” he said.

Ben-Gvir’s remarks on X follow a video statement released on Sunday, in which he said that Palestinian prisoners should be “shot in the head instead of being given more food”.

A preliminary reading of the proposed legislation to execute Palestinians accused of terrorism was approved by the Knesset’s General Assembly in March 2023, with two more readings due.

Swelling prison population

Israel has stepped up arrests and abductions of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza since October, with Shin Bet director Ronen Bar warning last week that the facilities had become a “ticking time bomb”.

“The physical and mental living conditions may lead to acts of violence inside the jails and prisons, and some inmates are already planning acts of violence and revenge,” Bar said in a letter sent to top Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ben-Gvir, Israel’s Channel 12 reported.

The letter added that Israeli prisons, which have a capacity of 14,000, were currently holding 21,000 prisoners.

On Monday, legal NGO HaMoked said Israel is holding 9,623 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, including some 3,379 held without charge or trial under the controversial administrative detention policy.

Former detainees have alleged being subjected to torture and sexual abuse in Israeli detention, including at the hands of Israeli doctors.



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