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Israel removes prisoner privileges in bid to put pressure on Hamas

[JURIST] The Israeli Cabinet voted in a meeting [minutes] Sunday to deny Hamas [JURIST news archive] prisoners privileges not required by law, such as education, entertainment and some visitation. The move, recommended by Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann [official profile; JURIST news archive], is intended to pressure Hamas [Haaretz report] into releasing Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit [BBC Q&A; JURIST news archive], who was captured in Gaza in 2006. The new policy [Arutz Sheva report] will place strict limits on family visits and money transfers, as well as remove opportunities for prisoners to take high school and university classes. The new rules were among the recommendations of a commission established by Friedmann after talks for the release of Shalit failed earlier this month. Freidmann said prisoners will continue to receive visits from the Red Cross [organization website], unlike Shalit, who has been denied them since his capture. The Israel Prison Service [official website, in Hebrew] has already begun to act [AFP report] on the recommendations of the commission.

Earlier this month, Israeli forces arrested 12 Hamas leaders [JURIST report] during raids in the West Bank after Israel and Hamas failed to reach an agreement on a prisoner exchange involving Shalit. Soon after Shalit's capture, Israel seized Hamas leaders [JURIST report] including Palestinian Cabinet ministers and lawmakers. Prisoner exchange negotiations between Israel and Hamas have failed before, although Egypt has been attempting to mediate [JURIST reports] such negotiations since 2006.

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