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Following HaMoked’s petition, a 14-year-old girl was allowed to cross military checkpoint in order to visit her incarcerated brother, despite a “security ban”; in future, the military will conduct checks on the spot to enable “banned” children to visit their imprisoned loved ones

The incarceration of Palestinians from the oPt in prison facilities inside Israel, in violation of international law, results in the severe infringement of the right to family life of both the inmates and their families. Visiting incarcerated relatives (including in Ofer prison in the West Bank) requires a special military entry permit, for which a request must be submitted well in advance. Children under age 16 do not require a permit and for decades their entry has been unrestricted, with no advance procedure involved.

However, in recent years a worrying phenomenon has surfaced, whereby the military prevents some minors from crossing the checkpoints into Israel (or to Ofer prison) on their way to visit a sibling or parent, on the claim that there is a “security-based entry ban” against them. As a result, time and again for many months or even years, these minors are unable to see their imprisoned loved ones – without any explanation regarding the nature of the “security ban”. Only following HaMoked’s petitions in these cases, were these minors able to cross the checkpoint and visit their relatives. In its petitions, HaMoked protested the fact that the military failed its obligations toward the occupied population, which is of heightened importance when minors are concerned, and did not act swiftly and efficiently to ensure that children do not lose contact with their loved one for long periods of time. It should be noted that prospective visitors over age 16 who are under a security-based entry ban have to undergo a protracted procedure following which some get an entry permit to visit an imprisoned relative despite the ban. In the process of handling several cases of banned children in early 2019, HaMoked became increasingly worried that the military was about to impose this advance procedure on “banned” children, requiring them to coordinate their entry in advance for the purpose of visiting their relative in prison.

It appears this threat has been averted following HaMoked’s intervention in the case of a 14-year-old girl from the area of Ramallah, who has never been arrested or interrogated by the Israeli security forces. However, for over a year the girl was prevented from visiting her brother, incarcerated by Israel since the end of 2018, because each time she tried to cross the military checkpoint on her way to the prison, she was denied on the laconic grounds of a “security-based entry ban” against her.

Their father asked for HaMoked’s assistance in the matter. HaMoked contacted the military on August 11, 2019, demanding it allow the girl to cross the checkpoint to visit her brother. As no substantive response was received, HaMoked petitioned the Jerusalem District Court on November 19, 2019. A few days later, and before a court hearing was scheduled, the military informed HaMoked that the girl’s entry for the purpose of visiting her brother had been allowed (we later learned in the framework of the response to the petition, that her entry was allowed “despite the security ban”). Following this, on December 15, 2019, the girl crossed the checkpoint without any difficulty and visited her brother.

On January 13, 2020, the state submitted its response to the petition, stating that the military had taken steps to regulate its handling of such cases. Accordingly, it was announced that, from now on, when a child under 16 arrives (in the company of an adult with an entry permit) at a checkpoint on their way to visit an imprisoned relative, and it turns out that there is a security ban against them, the soldiers or security guards at the checkpoint will check by phone whether the child can pass through despite the ban. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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