Israel Prison Service compelled to allow hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners to meet with lawyers

Following Supreme Court petition filed by Adalah and Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, IPS compelled to end illegal punitive practice.

The Israel Prison Service (IPS) on Wednesday, 3 May 2017, was compelled to halt its practice of preventing Palestinian prisoners who are participating in a hunger strike from meeting with their lawyers. The move came in response to an Israeli Supreme Court petition against the practice filed by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs.

 

On 17 April 2017, some 1,500 Palestinians held by Israel and classified as "security prisoners" began a hunger strike to protest the conditions of their detention in Israeli prisons and to demand improvements (Israel is currently holding some 6,500 Palestinians in prisons and detention centers).

 

At the start of the hearing, Supreme Court Justices Hanan Melcer, Uri Shoham, and Noam Solberg questioned why the IPS allows Palestinian prisoners who are not hunger striking to meet with their lawyers while denying that same right to Palestinian prisoners who are participating in the strike.

 

Following the justices’ remarks, the IPS was compelled to allow Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike to meet with their lawyers.

 

The petitioners and IPS specified that “there is no disagreement over the rights of prisoners – including prisoners participating in a hunger strike – to meet with their lawyers for professional purposes only.”

 

Adalah Attorney Muna Haddad said after the hearing that “it is regretful that lawyers need to turn to the court in order to implement their undisputed constitutional right to visit prisoners who have been on hunger strike for 16 days. The IPS added insult to injury: The Palestinian prisoners embarked on their strike to protest the humiliating and inhumane conditions in which they are being held and, in response, the IPS took punitive measures that violated the prisoners’ rights even further.”