Israel Prison Service installs radiators in prisoners' cells in response to Adalah request

Lack of heat negatively impacts upon the daily functioning of the prisoners, on their health and physical condition, and causes severe insomnia.

The Israel Prison Service (IPS) has installed radiators in prison cells housing individuals classified as “security prisoners” by Israel. Almost all of these prisoners, currently around 7,000, are Palestinians.


The IPS announcement on the installation of the radiators, made on 5 February 2017, came in the wake of a letter sent in August 2016 by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel to IPS Commissioner Ofra Klinger and Gilboa prison warden Bassil Kishkush.


Adalah Attorney Aram Mahameed then requested that the IPS act to install air conditioners or coolers in the cells of Palestinians classified as "security prisoners":


"Some five years have passed and in the absence of a solution, living conditions in this prison's cells have gone from bad to worse, becoming more and more stifling and inhumane. This situation negatively impacts upon the daily functioning of the prisoners, on their health and physical condition, and likewise causes severe insomnia. Notably, security prisoners spend the majority of both day and night in their cells."


In that August 2016 letter, Adalah stressed that the cell conditions were a violation of both Israeli and international law, impinging upon the basic right to dignity and to basic minimal conditions during detention.


In response to that letter, the IPS director of internal oversight Aliza Ya'akobi stated that the IPS "is aware of the intense heat conditions in some of the detention facilities and is trying to find suitable and practical solutions – as well as heating solutions for the winter months – with the aim of improving prisoners' living conditions… In preparation for the winter, [the IPS] plans to acquire radiators that will be installed in cells in sections that do not have any climate control."


Adalah's follow-up letter to the IPS of 29 January 2017 sought to clarify whether radiators were indeed installed in cells and, if so, in which prisons and cells.


Ya'akobi confirmed that "radiators were installed in all IPS cells that do not have climate control; one radiator per cell."


Adalah welcomed the news, emphasizing that, "this will greatly ease the prisoners' harsh living conditions. Each cell in Gilboa prison, which houses an average of eight prisoners, has only one small barred window. The right to a minimal degree of dignity is part of the constitutional right to dignity that guarantees the safeguarding of the human spirit, whether one is free or situated within prison walls. We are satisfied with [this IPS's] decision."