The Israel Prison Service clarifies its regulations governing deposits to security prisoners’ canteen accounts: the regulations infringe on the rights of Palestinian prisoners and their relatives
Every prisoner is entitled to purchase various articles in the prison canteen. His family and others may deposit the necessary funds at the Israel Postal Bank. The money is transferred to the prisoner's computerized account which is managed by the prison’s financial officer. The canteen has a crucial role in the prisoners' wellbeing; it is where they can purchase necessary items, without which, the minimum conditions to which prisoners are entitled, are adversely affected. The Israel Prison Service (IPS), however, defines this service as "a revocable privilege".
HaMoked has received complaints which suggest that, recurrently, postal bank tellers inform those who arrive to make a deposit to the prisoner's account, that the account had been "closed", and no further deposits are allowed. In May 2009, HaMoked contacted the IPS and the Israel Postal Bank, in its first of several attempts, to clarify the regulations governing deposits to these accounts. However, rather than providing pertinent replies, both authorities attempted to shift the responsibility from one to the other, leaving HaMoked no choice but to file a petition under the Freedom of Information Act
On May 29, 2011, two years after HaMoked's initial request and only three days before the hearing on the petition, the IPS delivered its response
. The response clarified that under IPS regulations not only is there a NIS 1,300 monthly cap on deposits into security prisoners’ accounts, but a similar cap is placed on each depositor as well. This means that persons making deposits to security prisoners’ accounts are restricted to a total of NIS 1,300 per month, even if making deposits for several different prisoners.
These regulations infringe on the rights of Palestinian prisoners and their relatives in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, who, since the military prohibits their entry into Israel, the families must use carriers, sometimes for a fee, to go to a postal bank office in Israel and deposit the funds to the canteen accounts of their loved-ones. Needless to say, the Israel Postal Bank has no branches in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, hence the dependence on carriers inside Israel, the only ones who can make these deposits. Given that each carrier is allowed to deposit only NIS 1,300 per month, a special carrier is needed for each prisoner. What, then, must a father do if both his sons are imprisoned in Israel? Should he, in the opinion of the IPS, deposit only half the sum for each of his sons?
The petition under the Freedom of Information Act was deleted. HaMoked calls on the IPS to cancel the discriminatory regulations and allow Palestinian prisoners to exercise their right to living conditions equal to those of other prisoners.