The imprisonment of Palestinians within the territory of Israel, in violation of international law, forces their relatives to request military permits to enter Israel in order to visit them. The military sometimes refuses such requests due to a "security preclusion". But minors under the age of 16 have never been required to hold a permit in order to visit a relative in an Israeli prison, and their entry into Israel for this purpose was automatically permitted over the years.
However, in early 2016, HaMoked received a complaint regarding two minors from the West Bank, aged 6 and 8, whom the military barred from entering Israel for the purpose of visiting their imprisoned father due to a "security preclusion". Only a year later, and following the submission of a petition to the Jerusalem District Court, the military announced on October 31, 2016 that the block against the two minors had "probably been mistakenly entered". But despite this claim, it soon transpired that this case was part of a new trend of the military arbitrarily preventing, without justification, the entry into Israel of minors who wish to visit their detained relatives.
Such was the case with 13-year-old M., who since December 2016 was sent home every time he attempted to visit his imprisoned brother, with the justification that he is "barred from entering Israel". This, despite the fact the M.'s parents and his adult brothers enter Israel regularly for the purpose of visiting the imprisoned brother. HaMoked's letters to the military on the subject did not resolve the problem, and received only the vague response that: "on the surface, it seems that the resident's passage was prohibited due to the security block against him. If he wishes to accompany his parents, a request to visit a detainee must be submitted on his behalf".
As such, HaMoked submitted a petition to the Jerusalem District Court on November 21, 2018, demanding that the boy be permitted to visit his brother, and that the military be instructed to provide a justification for the prevention of his entry into Israel for that purpose. HaMoked noted that this is its ninth petition (!) regarding the prevention of the entry of minors under age 16 to visit an imprisoned relative, and each time the military claimed that the minor was prevented due to a mistake, but did nothing to prevent such cases in future. HaMoked further stressed that, for decades, children under 16 have not been required to receive an entry permit to Israel for the purpose of visiting a detainee, and as such the ICRC – which facilitates the visits – does not have a procedure for handling requests submitted on behalf of minors. Finally, HaMoked claimed that the military's conduct seriously harms the basic right of the boy and his brother to family life, and grossly violates the principles of good governance, and in particular the military's obligation to justify its decisions.