After long efforts: a severely ill Palestinian mother from East Jerusalem is allowed to have an “open visit” to her son imprisoned inside Israel
Under the prisons ordinance relating to security prisoners, a reinforced glass partition separates security prisoners from their visitors. Only children up to age eight who are visiting their incarcerated parent can have physical contact and direct face-to-face interaction with the inmate. A visit with no partition, which is called an "open visit", is otherwise granted to security prisoners in exceptional cases only.
On September 24, 2012, HaMoked wrote to the Israel Prison Service (IPS) to request an “open visit” for the ailing mother of a Palestinian prisoner, serving a long prison term. HaMoked explained that the woman had recently suffered a stroke, which left her confined to a wheelchair and with hearing problems, and consequently could not visit her son in the regular format.
The IPS informed HaMoked – over the phone – that the request was denied. Therefore, on February 13, 2013, HaMoked petitioned
the Court for Administrative Affairs to instruct the IPS to allow an “open visit” for the mother. HaMoked recalled that the human rights of all persons are guaranteed to them also in incarceration, and stressed that the refusal violated the right to family life of both the prisoner and his mother. In the petition, HaMoked also sought permission for a visit to the prisoner by his brother, a former prisoner himself.
On April 30, 2013, the court dismissed
HaMoked’s petition, accepting the IPS’s claim that an “open visit” was a privilege reserved to prisoners with good conduct. The court noted that in this case, the prisoner’s conduct was “very negative”, and added that there was security material against him that was presented ex parte. The court further ruled that the mother’s health problems were not terminal but rather chronic, such that did not prevent her from communicating with her son in a regular visit. The court also found no cause to approve the brother’s visit to the prisoner.
Later that same year, following HaMoked’s reapplication to the IPS to approve an open visit by the mother and a visit by the brother, the IPS notified HaMoked on September 8, 2013, that it had decided to allow a visit by the brother. And on January 29, 2014, it also announced that it had decided to approve a single open visit to the mother. However, by that time, her health deteriorated further, and she was unable to go on a visit to her son.
On May 26, 2015, once the woman felt she could cope with the physical strain required by the trip to prison, HaMoked contacted the IPS on her behalf. On June 2, 2015, the IPS approved an open visit for the mother. The woman will now be able to visit her son again, for the first time after a long time.