Israeli committee recommends to increase pressure on Hamas
An Israeli special ministerial committee recommended Wednesday the government to tighten the control of Gaza Strip crossings to add pressure on Hamas, Ha'aretz daily reported on its website.
The committee, headed by Israeli Justice Minister Daniel Friedman, was established after the failure of an Egypt-mediated prisoners swap deal with Hamas, Xinhua reported.
According to the report, the committee called for further restrict passage of merchandise into the coastal enclave, but recommended that humanitarian aid still be brought safely into Gaza.
It also raised the proposals of lowering the sums of money handed over to security prisoners, minimize their exposure to television and radio, reduce the number of visits they are entitled to, prevent any physical contact with their visitors, and minimize their educational opportunities.
The committee also decided to form a taskforce headed by the attorney general with representatives of the Shin Bet security agency, Israel Defense Forces and the Prison Service in order to minimize the privileges granted to Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners at this time.
The taskforce will conclude the discussion within two weeks and will then release a set of operational guidelines for consideration by the defense establishment.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel urged Minister Friedman and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to dissolve the special committee, and characterized any sanctions against Palestinian prisoners as "collective, unjust and illegal punishment."
Indirect intensive marathon talks held between Israel and Hamas in Egypt had failed to reach an agreement to free the abducted soldier Gilad Shalit for the swap of 1,450 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
Israel's outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office on Monday night accused Hamas of stymying the negotiations by hardening its position and raising "extreme demands".
Hamas has categorically rejected the accusations, stressing that the Israeli side did not present any serious offer during the latest Egypt-mediated talks.