Palestinian security prisoners at the Ramon Prison in southern Israel set fire to their cells on Tuesday, after Israel introduced a jamming signal that blocks illicit mobile phones.
The prisoners, all from the Hamas terrorist organization, set alight the mattresses in 14 cells, lightly wounding a staff member and an inmate.
For more than a month, the Israel Prison Service has been on high alert due to the threat of arson or violence against guards over the new method of blocking calls from smuggled cell phones. Security prisoners viewed the step as a serious blow to their quality of life, as the phones were used to communicate with their families.
The prisoners, however, also used these same cell phones to communicate with members of terrorist organizations in the West Bank and Gaza.
The leaders of the prisoners at Ramon resigned about a month ago, which the IPS saw as a very serious protest measure. Following the resignations, the IPS became concerned that the prisoners will make good on their threats to harm prison guards, cause damage to prison installations or cause riots.
The protests reached their peak Tuesday, after several hunger strikes and small demonstrations. At around 6pm, prison staff noticed smoke coming out of the cells in the wing where security prisoners affiliated with Hamas are being held. The guards who saw the fire immediately entered the wing and extinguished it. At the same time, they evacuated the 88 prisoners in the wing who were in danger from the fire.
The IPS said that the situation was under full control and that the prisoners who were responsible for the arson would be tried and severely punished.
"The prison was ready for the fire and it was therefore quickly extinguished," the prison said. "The innmates were informed that such actions would not be tolerated. We will continue to maintain our control over our prisons and disrupt any threat to Israel's security."