JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Arab-Israeli lawmaker admitted to smuggling cellphones to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, calling it “humanitarian activism.”
Basel Ghattas of Balad, one of the parties that make up the Arab Joint List, was questioned Tuesday by police. He was shown surveillance camera footage of him passing cellphones to two Palestinian security prisoners in Ketziot Prison on Sunday, Israel’s Channel 2 first reported.
Ghattas said the prisoners issue “is unbearably painful.”
“My visits to the prisoners are part of my humanitarian and moral activism,” he said, according to Channel 2. “The prisoners are suffering under difficult conditions, and dealing with this issue is part of my public and parliamentary work, which I am carrying out responsibly. I have nothing to hide. We are entering and leaving these interrogations with our heads held high.”
Also Tuesday, the Knesset House Committee put a blanket ban on Israeli lawmakers visiting prisoners in jail for security crimes, both Palestinian and Israeli, after the Shin Bet security service recommended the action.