Enabling Palestinian Security Prisoners Contact With Their Families During Covid
Following the petition of HaMoked and seven other human rights organizations, including ACRI, the Israel Prison Service announced that, for the month of Ramadan, Palestinian political prisoners will be given a one-time, unusual opportunity to conduct one 5-minute phone conversation with their families. The IPS’ decision excluded prisoners from the Gaza Strip associated with Hamas, who are prohibited from having family visitations.
The petition, filed on 26.3.2020, was a joint effort by the following organizations: Addameer, Al Mezan, Physicians for Human Rights, ACRI, the Public Committee Against Torture, Adalah, and Parents Against Child Detention. The petition demanded to allow those Palestinian prisoners categorized as “Security Prisoners” to have contact with their families over the phone. This is within the context of the ongoing separation of thousands of Palestinian prisoners from their families since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the prohibition of visits by families from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The petition also demanded the regulation of phone contact with families for minor prisoners as well—a demand which has so far been met only partially, when the IPS allowed minor prisoners to call their families once every two weeks.
In the hearing that was held in early April 2021, the High Court refused to discuss the fundamental issue of the rights of all security prisoners to have regular phone contact with their families during COVID-19. This is despite the sweeping prevention of family visits and prohibition of phone contact for all security prisoners. The judges claimed that one phone call during Ramadan for specific populations of prisoners (minors, women, hospitalized) is enough at this point, given “the dynamic situation” in their words. Additionally, the judges noted that prisoners interested in more than one phone call could file an inmate petition should if they are denied. In this spirit, the judges forced the petitioners to withdraw their petition.
For further information (Hebrew)