Ghattas begins his 2-year prison sentence, vows to continue supporting prisoners from within

Three months ago, former Israeli MK Basel Ghattas was convicted of charges related to smuggling cellphones into a prison for convicted terrorists last December. Ghattas, who took a plea bargain sentencing him to 2-years in prison, arrived at the Gilboa Prison gates this morning. Fellow Arab MKs and supporters accompanied Ghattas to the prison, hugging and cheering for him.
Ghattas outside Gilboa Prison Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

More than three months after former MK Basel Ghattas (The Joint Arab List) was convicted of charges related to smuggling cell phones into a prison, he arrived at the Gilboa Prison where he will serve his sentence. The former MK was convicted of fraud, breach of trust, providing the means to commit an act of terrorism (pursuant to the Anti-Terrorism Law), the smuggling and delivery of electronic equipment into a prison and the delivery of a letter prohibited under the prison’s ordinance. "I support the prisoners and I will continue to support them even in prison," Ghattas said this morning at the gates of the prison.

Ghattas was convicted this past March under a plea bargain that required him to testify before the judges on the charges against him, resign from the Knesset and serve a two-year sentence. During the hearing, Ghattas noted that he knew that mobile phones had been given to him but did not know how many and that he had entered the prison without being checked because of his Knesset immunity.

This morning, MK Haneen Zoabi and MK Jamal Zahalka came to the prison to see Ghattas before he entered the prison gates. "It's not an easy day," said Zahalka. “Those who need to be in prison are those who bombed Gaza and committed war crimes. There is a state of law here, but also of injustice.”

Zahalka added that this is a struggle for the security prisoners' right to use telephones. "Our demand is that the security prisoners have the right to use a public telephone like any other prisoner," he explained. "Ghattas helped these people in isolation for humanitarian purposes. The spotlight should be on the fact that there are 6,500 prisoners who have no rights."

Ghattas at a Farewell support party last night Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

"We are not parting from the struggle to protect the rights of prisoners," added Zoabi. "The people who fight for freedom and justice choose their tools. Ghattas chose what to do and he did not run away from taking responsibility. He said he did it for moral reasons and chose to pay the price.”

On Saturday, dozens of Ghattas’ supporters arrived to show their support for the former MK, who was also joined by Knesset Member Ayman Odeh and Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement.

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