The military prevents a Palestinian mother from visiting her son who is serving a life sentence: the mother – who has never been arrested or interrogated – is banned from entering Israel for the visit, on the grounds that it could "threaten the security of the area" המוקד להגנת הפרט
16.09.2012
The military prevents a Palestinian mother from visiting her son who is serving a life sentence: the mother – who has never been arrested or interrogated – is banned from entering Israel for the visit, on the grounds that it could "threaten the security of the area"
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Contrary to the rules of international law, Israel holds prisoners from the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) inside the green line. While it has been Israel's decision to incarcerate OPT prisoners on its soil and although family visits of Palestinian prisoners are carried out under strict security control, Israel has been preventing many family members from visiting their loved-ones in prison, claiming that their entry into Israel might pose a threat.

A Palestinian life-term prisoner, a resident of the OPT, has been serving his sentence inside Israel since 2006. His mother, living in the West Bank, used to regularly visit him in prison until August 2011, when, at the border crossing on her way to visit her son, the military took away her permit.

The woman applied for a new permit a few days later, but for months, the military gave her no response, in blatant violation of its undertaking before the High Court of Justice, to respond to applications for Israeli entry permits for prison visits within 10 weeks at most. In November 2011, in the absence of response, HaMoked contacted the military on the mother's behalf, demanding the immediate processing of the permit application. However, five months after the application was submitted, the military merely informed HaMoked that the application was in process.

On May 24, 2012, after another six months had passed without any response, HaMoked filed an administrative petition to the court, requesting that the military be instructed to allow the mother to visit her imprisoned son in Israel. HaMoked asserted that the right to family visits in incarceration facilities constitutes a fundamental right of both the prisoner and his family, which derives from the concept of the human being as a social creature who lives within a family and a community. HaMoked added that under both Israeli law and international law, while restricting his freedom of movement, the prison walls do not have the power to deprive the prisoner of his other basic rights, unless expressly and legally denied. Finally, HaMoked argued that an administrative authority is obliged to respond to enquiries it receives within a reasonable period of time, and that its non-response infringed on the basic rights of both the mother and her imprisoned son.

In September 2012, in its response to the petition, the military notified that the mother's request had been denied. And the reason stated? "the position of security officials who object to the petitioner's entry into Israel for the purpose of visiting her son in prison". During the hearing, the court reviewed ex parte the classified material of the military, and, without holding a hearing into the security claims themselves in the presence of both parties, advised the petitioners to remove the petition. The petition was stuck off with HaMoked's consent; thus the mother, who has never been interrogated or arrested, is destined to remain sundered from her son.
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