Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has instructed Israel Prison Service Commissioner Ofra Klinger to prevent Hamas operatives jailed in Israeli prisons from watching the upcoming World Cup soccer championship.
Erdan issued the directive in coordination with the special negotiator for hostages and prisoners of war, Yaron Blum, in an effort to turn up the pressure on the terrorist organization over its holding of Israeli bodies and captives.
Hamas is holding the remains of two Israeli soldiers — Golani Brigade’s Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul and Givati Brigade’s Lt. Hadar Goldin — who were killed in the 2014 conflict in Gaza, as well as holding two Israeli civilians — Ethiopian-Israeli Avera Mengistu and Bedouin Hisham al-Sayed — who crossed into Gaza voluntarily in 2014 and 2015. The fate of Jumaa Abu Ghanima, an Israeli who crossed the border into Gaza in 2016, remains unknown.
The directive is the latest in a series of steps led by Erdan in recent years in efforts to pressure Hamas, including withholding family visits from prisoners, holding terrorists’ bodies as leverage and whittling prisoners’ privileges down to the absolute minimum required by international law.
“We have no intention of allowing Hamas terrorists to watch the World Cup championship while our soldiers’ bodies are being held hostage in Gaza together with our kidnapped citizens,” Erdan said.
“Those who have removed themselves from the family of nations and cleave to a culture of terrorism and murder do not deserve to enjoy an international sporting competition that brings nations together.”