A dramatic increase in the number of prisoners since the start of the war with Hamas is straining the system’s capacity, Israel’s prison service warned on Monday, according to the Times of Israel website.
“We are very close to reaching capacity for prisoners,” said Lt. Col. Elyasaf Zakai, head of the Department of Planning and Prisons. He added that “it is not possible to overcrowd prisons indefinitely.”
As of last week, there were approximately 19,372 prisoners in Israeli prisons, an increase of more than 3,000 since October. It is also significantly more than the statutory maximum of 14,500 prisoners.
84 percent of prisoners classified as security prisoners currently live in an area of less than three square meters – three thousand prisoners sleep instead of in beds on mattresses on the floor, writes the Times of Israel website.
This practice violates long-standing rules in Israel. But last month, the government declared a “state of emergency” in prisons, which made it possible to temporarily cancel the conditions of the prisoners’ accommodation.