Palestinians imprisoned in Israel told Ynet on Monday that in recent months authorities have been turning a blind eye to smuggling of cellular phones into prisons.
According to the prisoners, authorities are allowing conversations between prisoners and their families because they believe these would serve as a pressuring tool on Hamas to agree to the exchange deal that would release captured soldier Gilad Shalit.
The prisoners noted that the change in policy made the prices for smuggling cellular phones into prisons plummet tremendously.
Israel Prison Service denied any change in policy in this matter and presented data on cellular phones seized from security prisoners in recent days.
However, the prisoners claimed that despite thorough checks conducted by the different units of the prison service, there were thousands of phones inside the prison walls.
"The Israelis aren't idiots. They allow the phones to be smuggled in only for this purpose, and those who dare speak to friends instead of family members, risk heavy punishment," said a source, who claimed the move will not be successful. "If the Israelis expect the Hamas to accept their terms, then they are wrong."
The prisoners unanimously believe Hamas must not veer an inch from its demands. "We understand that if one prisoner is not released in this deal, than he will never be released," a veteran prisoner told Ynet. "That's why we prefer to wait a little longer, so that those serving heavier punishments are released."
'Strict policy'The prisoner admitted that the gross majority will agree to be deported if released, but added, "This is not what the deal is hinged upon. The prisoners will agree to anything as long as they are released, but they will not agree to see their friends stay behind. As far as we are all concerned – one name is enough to thwart the whole deal."
The prisoner added that according to an update he received, the German mediator is slated to return to the area and try to restart the stalled negotiations.
Israel Prison Service spokesman Yaron Zamir said in response, "In terms of security, the policy is strict in regards to phone smuggling. The information is deceiving – only this afternoon two cellular phones were seized during a search in one of the jail facilities for security prisoners."
Sources in the IPS also noted that transferring messages from prisoners to their families – and through them to the Hamas – was possible via the prisoner's lawyers, and did not warrant the use of cellular phones.
Meanwhile, the march for the release of Gilad Shalit on Monday concluded its second day. Some 5,000 people attended a rally held in Kiryat Motzkin, during which Gilad's father, Noam, said: "We are excited to see the masses of people gathered here. I hope this mass, that is pushing us and being swept with us, will continue to come and support us and become even larger."
The Shalit march is slated to leave Kiryat Motzkin Tuesday morning and head to Haifa port.
Gilad Shalit was kidnapped to the Gaza Strip 1,465 days ago.
Raanan Ben-Zur contributed to this report