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Should Palestinian children be able to call parents from prison? Israeli court will decide

Palestinian children in Israeli jails classified as ‘security prisoners’ are denied the right to speak to or see their families, sometimes for months on end.

A prisoner seen making a phone call in Gilboa Prison, northern Israel, February 28, 2013. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

A prisoner seen making a phone call in Gilboa Prison, northern Israel, February 28, 2013. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Israel’s top court will hear arguments about whether Palestinian children held in Israeli prisoners should be allowed to call their parents on the phone.

Palestinian minors classified by Israel as “security prisoners,” including those awaiting trial for crimes such as stone throwing, are subject to numerous restrictions identical to those imposed on adult prisoners such as the denial of telephone contact with their parents.

The prison service allegedly refuses to treat minors classified as “security prisoners” according to Israeli laws and rules regulating the treatment of children.

According to Israeli human rights organization HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, which petitioned the court, the Israel Prison Service imposes these restrictions on all minors, without considering the severity of the allegations or the length of the prison term.

Palestinian minors in the West Bank, as opposed to those arrested in East Jerusalem and Israel, are often prevented from contacting their parents for months on end, well into their incarceration, since their parents must undergo a lengthy process to obtain a permit to visit them in prison ­— even if those prisons are inside the West Bank.

According to testimonies collected by HaMoked and many other rights groups over the years, Palestinian minors are systematically denied any contact with their parents upon arrest and are interrogated without the presence of one of their parents, contrary to legal requirements inside Israel. Those testimonies also show that Israeli interrogators often resort to verbal and physical violence, solitary confinement, and the denial of the right to see an attorney.

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The petition argues that it is crucial for Palestinian minors to be allowed to have regular phone contact with their parents, while detailing the psychological damage that they may face in absence of those phone calls.

One 15-year-old Palestinian boy imprisoned by Israel told HaMoked about how he had yet to contact his parents two months after he was arrested in the middle of the night.

“I haven’t received a visit,” a press statement from HaMoked quotes the boy, identified only as K.N., as saying. “I still haven’t talked to them [the family] at all. There’s no phone and no possibility of making phone calls from prison to the family… I miss everyone, and I don’t know when I’ll see them.”

HaMoked said it repeatedly demanded that the Israel Prison Service allow Palestinian minors to make phone calls to their families, but turned to the High Court after the IPS sent a letter in June of 2016 in which it claimed there is “no distinction between the nature and type of offense of which an adult inmate is suspected, accused or convicted and the nature and type of offense of which a minor is suspected, accused or convicted.”

When it came to using the telephone, the IPS stated that the “use of telephone contact is not deemed a right of the prisoner population.”

The way the IPS classifies and treats Palestinian minors is “contrary to the language and spirit of the Israeli law relating to minors in custody; disregards the principle of the child’s best interests, which constitutes a binding basic principle for any action by a state authority; and contravenes international law, primarily the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Israel is signatory,” according to HaMoked.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Lewis from Afula

      Are these kids genuinely “fakestinyan” ?
      I understand that the land in question was taken from JORDAN in the 6 day war (1967).
      From where did this “fakestine” come from ?
      Did it magically materialize from thin air ?

      Reply to Comment
      • Rivka Koen

        At least you know when you read Lewis’s comments that he couldn’t possibly be getting paid to drop these takes.

        Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        @LfA: So, if I follow you, you’re a Britishstinian fakeisraeli? Ok. The term “fakestine” originated as I understand it when one of your brain cells got together with another lonely brain cell of yours after a long search for each other in empty space and bam! a depolarization of 1 x 10 to the minus 26 micromillivolts resulted in this term’s existence in the void. Ex nihilo. It was a miracle.

        Reply to Comment
        • Lewis from Afula

          Ben:
          You need to stop reading those spiderman comics. He’s not real, you know!

          Reply to Comment
    2. Eliza

      Not allowing Palestinian children held in Israeli jails telephone access to their parents in lieu of real visits – which goes to show that there really is not an act of unkindness too small that Israelis deny themselves. All in the name of their security of course and just part of daily duties of the Israelis manning the prisons who are no doubt kind to their families and dogs. Following orders anyone.

      If ever Hannah Arendt’s ‘banality of evil’ blankets Israel it is in these small acts of bastardy to Palestinian children.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        The banality of evil is also present when Israeli settler children order about and abuse Palestinian adults in Hebron, and their nannies in the army protect the little dictators and their fathers approve; and when Jewish hilltop youths assault old Palestinian men while army troops stand by and watch; and when 18-year-old soldiers exact arbitrary, petty little acts of cruelty and play petty games with adult Palestinians at checkpoints; and when the Palestinian children see their mothers and fathers abused and humiliated by Israeli children and Israeli soldiers like this and then pick up stones to throw at the abusers, they get called “terrorists” and get locked up and deprived of many things including a phone call to the parent they saw humiliated and abused; and when people like Itshak come here and say “tsk tsk, why do loving parents let their children throw stones? We would never let our children do that.”

        Reply to Comment
    3. Amir

      Where is itshaq? The only democracy in the ME? I thought this case is the same like anywhere in Europe or Japan?

      Do France or Germany kidnapp kids at 1am and give them to parents after 5 days?

      Reply to Comment