Israeli minister seeks World Cup TV ban for Hamas prisoners

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Minister and legal experts seek to change regulations before World Cup, which runs from 14 June to 15 July

Hamas inmates in Israel may be not joining the millions watching the World Cup next month (AFP)
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Monday 28 May 2018 6:25 UTC
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Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said on Sunday he is seeking to ban Palestinian prisoners who are members of Hamas from watching the upcoming World Cup.

"I have no intention of letting Hamas members who are detainees in our prisons enjoy the World Cup matches while we have Israeli hostages and soldiers in the Gaza Strip," Erdan said, quoted by the YNet news website.

The minister said he had asked the Israel Prison Service to "put pressure" on jailed members of Hamas.

Under current rules, prisoners have the right to watch television, but Erdan said he is checking to see if regulations could be changed in time for the World Cup, which runs from 14 June to 15 July. 

The minister has brought together legal experts to examine the possibility of preventing security prisoners from watching specific TV channels - an idea that is complicated by the fact that security prisoners and detainees under arrest are not kept separated and that the regulations say detainees have to be allowed to watch, the Times of Israel reported.

Prisoners who "support terrorism cannot benefit from a sporting competition which unites populations," the minister said. 

The bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war, Oren Shaul and Hadar Goldin, are believed to be held by Hamas. 

About 6,500 Palestinians are detained in Israeli prisons, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club.