Islamic Jihad threatens war with Israel over new prison rules

Israel Prison Service has been splitting up inmates who are members of Islamic Jihad following the Gilboa Prison break. 

By Donna Rachel Edmunds, World Israel News

Islamic Jihad has threatened war with Israel if new prison policies introduced in response to the Gilboa Prison break are not overturned.

“Palestinian Islamic Jihad will not leave its members in Zionist prisons to be victims at the hands of the enemy. Accordingly, we will stand with them and support them with everything we have, even if this means we must go to war for their sake,” Ziad al-Nakhaleh, head of the terror group, announced on Wednesday.

The al-Quds Brigade, the military wing of the group, backed up his threat Thursday.

“We announce a state of general alert among the ranks of our fighters. We are completely prepared and at the ready,” they said, in a brief statement.

Israel Prison Services has introduced a number of policies aimed at preventing another prison break like the one in September, in which six inmates broke out of the high security prison and fled. Five of the six are members of Islamic Jihad. All were subsequently recaptured.

There are currently more than 4,600 Palestinians incarcerated in Israeli jails on terror charges. Over the years, Palestinian prisoners have secured concessions through hunger strikes and other unionized actions, including being housed according to political faction.

But with indications that housing them in the same cell may have attributed to the break, the Prison Service has started to break up groups of Islamic Jihad prisoners housed together, moving some to other jails, and others into solitary confinement.

Family visits to the prisoners have also been put on hold.

Islamic Jihad prisoners launched a hunger strike on Wednesday in protest at the breaking up of cell-mate groups, claiming that the measures constitute “abusive actions.”

The Palestinian Prisoners Club, which represents current and former prisoners, confirmed that the strike was over the separation of Islamic Jihad members from others in their faction. Club head Qadura Fares indicated that some 250 prisoners were taking part in the hunger strike, and that 100 would begin refusing water after one week, according to Ynet.

Fares called on Palestinians to protest in support of the strikers, indicating that other factions, including Fatah, may join the strike in solidarity.