HaMoked has published a position paper calling for the rejection of bills that seek to deny the right to family visits to security prisoners who are members of organizations holding Israeli captives: HaMoked argues that these proposed laws are inconsonant with international and Israeli law; violate Israel’s obligation to protect the right to family life and its commitment – in accordance with the Geneva Convention – to provide detainees with the conditions they deserve, regardless of the principle of reciprocity המוקד להגנת הפרט عر HE wheel chair icon
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01.04.2008
HaMoked has published a position paper calling for the rejection of bills that seek to deny the right to family visits to security prisoners who are members of organizations holding Israeli captives: HaMoked argues that these proposed laws are inconsonant with international and Israeli law; violate Israel’s obligation to protect the right to family life and its commitment – in accordance with the Geneva Convention – to provide detainees with the conditions they deserve, regardless of the principle of reciprocity
HaMoked has published a position paper calling for the rejection of bills that seek to deny the right to family visits to security prisoners who are members of organizations holding Israeli captives: HaMoked argues that these proposed laws are inconsonant with international and Israeli law; violate Israel’s obligation to protect the right to family life and its commitment – in accordance with the Geneva Convention – to provide detainees with the conditions they deserve, regardless of the principle of reciprocity

The position paper was written on behalf of the following organizations: B'Tselem – the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, The Public Committee against Torture in Israel and Physicians for Human Rights – Israel. 

On 30 March 2008, a position paper concerning two bills that have been presented before the Knesset was published; one of the bills has already passed its preliminary reading. The bills advocate the denial of visits to security prisoners affiliated with an organization that is holding an Israeli civilian or captive. The purpose of both proposals is to deny the right to family visits to security prisoners who Israel alleges are members of an organization that is holding an Israeli captive in order to apply pressure on the organizations to release the captives. 

The position paper proves that Israel is already violating international law concerning family visits to prisons. Family members who are defined for any reason as “prevented from entering Israel” may already visit prison only three times a year, at most, rather than “at regular intervals” as required by the Fourth Geneva Convention and other international conventions to which Israel is bound. The paper also notes that internees from the Gaza Strip have not received any family visits since June 2007. 

The injury to prison visits constitutes not only a violation of the rights of prisoners, but also a violation of the basic right to family life of both the prisoner and their family. The position paper presents numerous examples of Israeli court rulings recognizing the tremendous importance of protecting the right to family life, including the ruling in HCJ 2245/06 in the Dobrin case, in which it was determined: “In the ranking of constitutional rights, after protection of the right to life and physical integrity comes the constitutional protection of the right to parenthood and family… Accordingly, this right enjoys a high ranking among the constitutional human rights. In its importance, it precedes the right to property, to freedom of vocation, and even to personal privacy. ‘It reflects the essence of the human’s existence, the embodiment of the realization of the human’s self.’" 

The position paper discusses the subject of reciprocity, which forms the essence of the proposals, emphasizing that Israel’s commitment under international law to permit visits to prisoners and to protect the right to family life is not subject to the principle of reciprocity. The violation of the Geneva Convention by one party does not eliminate the obligation to the convention on the part of the other party. This principle was recognized in HCJ 794/98 in the case of `Obeid: “Do the Petitioners deserve to have humanitarian considerations taken into account in their matter, while Israeli soldiers and civilians are held by the organizations to which the Petitioners belong, which pay no heed to humanitarian considerations and refuse to provide any information about those of our men they are holding? Our reply to these questions is this: The State of Israel is a state of law; the State of Israel is a democracy that respects human rights, and which gives serious attention to humanitarian considerations… Our moral approach, the humanity of our position, the rule of law that guides us – all these constitute an important component in our security and our strength. At the end of the day, this is our advantage." 

On 31 March 2008, ahead of a discussion of one of the bills, the organizations sent a letter along with the position paper to the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chaired  by MK Tzachi Hanegbi calling on the committee to oppose these bills which contradict both Israeli and international law. 

To view the position paper dated 30 March 2008 

To view the proposed law dated 11 February 2008 (Hebrew) 

To view the proposed law dated 25 July 2007 (Hebrew)

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The position paper was written on behalf of the following organizations: B'Tselem – the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, The Public Committee against Torture in Israel and Physicians for Human Rights – Israel. 

On 30 March 2008, a position paper concerning two bills that have been presented before the Knesset was published; one of the bills has already passed its preliminary reading. The bills advocate the denial of visits to security prisoners affiliated with an organization that is holding an Israeli civilian or captive. The purpose of both proposals is to deny the right to family visits to security prisoners who Israel alleges are members of an organization that is holding an Israeli captive in order to apply pressure on the organizations to release the captives. 

The position paper proves that Israel is already violating international law concerning family visits to prisons. Family members who are defined for any reason as “prevented from entering Israel” may already visit prison only three times a year, at most, rather than “at regular intervals” as required by the Fourth Geneva Convention and other international conventions to which Israel is bound. The paper also notes that internees from the Gaza Strip have not received any family visits since June 2007. 

The injury to prison visits constitutes not only a violation of the rights of prisoners, but also a violation of the basic right to family life of both the prisoner and their family. The position paper presents numerous examples of Israeli court rulings recognizing the tremendous importance of protecting the right to family life, including the ruling in HCJ 2245/06 in the Dobrin case, in which it was determined: “In the ranking of constitutional rights, after protection of the right to life and physical integrity comes the constitutional protection of the right to parenthood and family… Accordingly, this right enjoys a high ranking among the constitutional human rights. In its importance, it precedes the right to property, to freedom of vocation, and even to personal privacy. ‘It reflects the essence of the human’s existence, the embodiment of the realization of the human’s self.’" 

The position paper discusses the subject of reciprocity, which forms the essence of the proposals, emphasizing that Israel’s commitment under international law to permit visits to prisoners and to protect the right to family life is not subject to the principle of reciprocity. The violation of the Geneva Convention by one party does not eliminate the obligation to the convention on the part of the other party. This principle was recognized in HCJ 794/98 in the case of `Obeid: “Do the Petitioners deserve to have humanitarian considerations taken into account in their matter, while Israeli soldiers and civilians are held by the organizations to which the Petitioners belong, which pay no heed to humanitarian considerations and refuse to provide any information about those of our men they are holding? Our reply to these questions is this: The State of Israel is a state of law; the State of Israel is a democracy that respects human rights, and which gives serious attention to humanitarian considerations… Our moral approach, the humanity of our position, the rule of law that guides us – all these constitute an important component in our security and our strength. At the end of the day, this is our advantage." 

On 31 March 2008, ahead of a discussion of one of the bills, the organizations sent a letter along with the position paper to the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chaired  by MK Tzachi Hanegbi calling on the committee to oppose these bills which contradict both Israeli and international law. 

To view the position paper dated 30 March 2008 

To view the proposed law dated 11 February 2008 (Hebrew) 

To view the proposed law dated 25 July 2007 (Hebrew)

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