For two years a Palestinian mother was prevented from visiting her son imprisoned inside Israel because the military insisted she had no "family tie": the visit was allowed only after HaMoked petitioned the court
For many years Israel has been holding Palestinian inmates from the oPt inside its territory, contrary to the prohibition in international law on transferring protected residents from the occupied territory. The incarceration of Palestinians in prison and detention facilities inside Israel results in a severe violation of the rights of both the inmates and their families to family visits. This is exacerbated by the fact that residents of the oPt must seek a permit from the military in order to enter Israel, even for the purpose of visiting their relatives held in Israel. Moreover, often relatives are prevented from visiting their incarcerated loved-one, due to various allegations
or failures on the part of the military
. HaMoked is repeatedly obliged to petition the court in such cases, after the military fails to conduct the necessary checks or drags its feet in correcting its records.
Thus in the case of a 69-year-old woman from Nablus, the mother of a prisoner incarcerated since 2003 and serving multiple life-sentences. For more than a decade the woman visited her son without any problem in coordinating her visits, with entry permits she received from the military. But her visit in April 2016 turned out to be the last one for a long time.
When she next asked to receive a permit, the military refused her request, on the preposterous claim of “absence of family tie”. Thus the military responded to her repeated requests over the next two years. Following the second refusal in a row, she even enquired with the Palestinian Ministry of the Interior, which confirmed that she was indeed registered as the prisoner’s mother.
Late in 2018, the woman turned in desperation to HaMoked to help her meet her son again. HaMoked contacted the military on her behalf, requesting a prison-visit entry permit for her. To its request, HaMoked attached a copy of the prisoner’s birth certificate listing the woman as his mother as proof that they were related. But HaMoked’s request was also refused on the grounds of failing the family-tie criterion, with no reference made to the documentation HaMoked provided.
HaMoked had no choice but to file a petition to the District Court
on behalf of the woman on December 31, 2018. In the petition, HaMoked asserted that the right to family life was a basic constitutional right of the first order, especially when dealing with a prisoner sentenced for a very long period and held under restricted conditions (being classified a “security prisoner”). HaMoked noted that “the right to family visitation in incarceration facilities stems from the prevailing concept, in both Israeli and international law, that the detention or arrest in and of itself does not entail the denial of the inmate’s other basic rights”. HaMoked further said that the military, as ruler of the occupied civilian population, is bound to enable family visits. HaMoked stressed that the refusal was arbitrary, as the military clearly did not actually examine the requests submitted to it, including the supplementary documents.
On March 6, 2019, the military announced
that “due to a technical problem the [mother]’s entry to visit her incarcerated son was prevented… as of now the problem is fixed… the petitioner has been issued a permit of entry to Israel for the purpose of visiting the inmate”, valid for one year.
The petition was deleted at HaMoked’s request on March 13, 2019.