Following HaMoked's intervention: a father is allowed to visit his son, imprisoned in Israel
The incarceration of prisoners and detainees from the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) in Israel constitutes a blatant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of prisoners and detainees outside the occupied territory, and a violation of basic human rights, entrenched also in Israeli law. Among other things, Israel exploits the fact that OPT prisoners are held in Israel to pressurize them or their families, by impeding visits or even denying them altogether.
HaMoked assists Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israel and their families to fulfill their right to family visits in prison.
In December 2010, the father of a prisoner in the Eshel prison, near Beer Sheva, wished to visit his son whom he had not seen for some months. The father, who lives in the Bethlehem area, filed his visit request through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and three months later, after passing a protracted series of security checks, he obtained a single use entry permit to Israel, valid for 45 days.
Being a former prisoner himself, the father was required, under the Israel Prison Service (IPS) regulations, to obtain an additional individual entry permit to the prison. On March 7, 2011, HaMoked applied to the Eshel prison to arrange for the father's visit. According to the IPS regulations "a reply shall be given within two weeks". In this instance, the timeframe was crucial, as the father, who like any other visitor from the West Bank depends on the ICRC shuttle schedule, had only one chance to visit during the validity period of his permit to enter Israel: on April 11, 2011.
Two weeks after the letter was sent, HaMoked contacted Major Avi Segev, the prisoner liaison officer at the Eshel Prison, requesting a response. Segev replied that the application was still being processed and the response date unknown. When HaMoked called Segev’s attention to the timetable stipulated in the IPS regulations, he rudely responded that "the security agencies have more important things to do, like guarding state security".
After two more weeks, with the date of visit fast approaching, HaMoked again contacted Major Avi Segev, who again said there was still no response. When HaMoked protested, Segev replied "no problem, an answer will be sent immediately". Indeed, an answer came in that same day, whereby Mr. Segev curtly informed the request for a prisoner visit was denied.
HaMoked sent a written complaint
to the prison commander regarding Major Avi Segev’s outrageous conduct. HaMoked stated that Major Segev had made law unto himself, disregarded the regulations governing his actions and exceeded his authority. That same day, the prison commander sent a reply
apologizing for the unpleasantness, and informing that the complaint against the prisoner liaison officer would be processed, and that the father's visit to the Eshel prison was now approved.
Finally, on April, 11, 2011, after overcoming the bureaucratic obstacle course Israel places in the path of Palestinians who wish to meet their loved ones, the father visited his son in the prison inside Israel.