A new radio station called Voice of Prisoners has now officially hit the airwaves in the Gaza Strip.
As the name suggests, the radio programmes are specifically directed to the Palestinian detainees and focuses on allowing them to maintain ties with their relatives.
In an article written by Ali Waked for Ynet, Rafat abu-Khalil, one of the station’s personalities and a former prisoner, who was detained in an Israeli prison for fifteen years for partaking in the Islamic Jihad, says that Voice of Prisoners meets an increasing need for such programming.
Indeed even though similar programmes have been broadcast for years from the Israeli area, it was only for a few hours a week. Rafat abu-Khalil added that this only led to requests for more programmes and complaints that there was not enough air-time.
Prison management cannot prohibit the station from broadcasting. However the programmes can sometimes be quite challenging because prisoners can use it to transfer information to other prisons. But at the same time it can also be a good tool for prison management to gain useful intelligence.
Israeli public opinion is very much against such an initiative. Many comments have been left on the website saying that it is crazy to let them communicate with their families, a parallel has been drawn with Gilad Shalit who has barely seen the light of day, let alone talk to his family, for more than three years now.
During my research as a Criminologist, I’ve always supported any initiative that could improve conditions for Palestinian or “Security” prisoners which I believe are crucial to allow them to go through the process of de-radicalisation, and for us to have a better society.
But as an Israeli I can only relate to the comments that have been posted which deplore the lack of reciprocity and the different attitude to human rights and life itself.
You can also read the article in Hebrew here.