TEL AVIV (Aug. 30)
Ten Knesset members today visited the Tel Mond prison to check out press reports that the nearly 30 members of the Jewish underground were receiving preferential treatment.
There were no incidents during today’s visit, unlike last Sunday when four MKs who tried to visit the prison were beaten by supporters of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach Party. They were also prevented from entering the prison by the prison authorities on orders from Interior and Police Minister Yosef Burg who said their visit had not been coordinated with the proper authorities. The visit today by the 10 MKs had been worked out in advance with Burg.
The 10 MKs were split evenly between the left and right of the political spectrum, and after their visit they were predictably split in their assessments about the treatment accorded to the prisoners who are awaiting trial for harming West Bank Arab mayors and for planning to blow up Moslem holy sites on the Temple Mount. But all appeared to agree that if there was preferential treatment, it was being accorded on professional grounds, and not because of political considerations or orders from above.
Some of the rightwing MKs thought the detainees should get special treatment because they were well-intentioned patriots. Geula Cohen of Tehiya said, after the visit, that the press was to blame for the incident last Sunday, by making a mountain out of a mole-hill.
Mordechai Bar-On of the Civil Rights Movement, one of the four MKs who tried to visit the prison Sunday, said today that he found the detainees to be well-behaved and spent much of their time teaching some of the less advantaged young men in the prison. But he questioned the wisdom of having those charged with serious offenses being allowed to educate young people.
Bar-On said he found that any preferences given to the prisoners charged with involvement in the underground was that while the general prison population were visited by their families on Saturdays, the religious inmates were visited during the week when there was less pressure on both the warden and prison guards.