Adalah: Israel Prison Service has no legal authority to film prisoners in their cells

IPS illegally filmed, distributed video claimed to be of Palestinian prisoner & hunger strike leader Marwan Barghouti in his cell and bathroom; Adalah demands criminal probe of incident.

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs sent an urgent letter to senior Israeli officials demanding they open a criminal investigation into whoever was responsible for illegally shooting and distributing a video allegedly filmed in the cell of Palestinian prisoner and hunger strike leader Marwan Barghouti.


The joint letter, sent on 9 May 2017 to Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and Israel Prison Service (IPS) legal advisor Yochi Gensin, concerned a video released by the IPS on 7 May 2017 allegedly depicting Barghouti eating in his cell during the hunger strike.


On 17 April 2017, some 1,500 Palestinians held by Israel and classified as "security prisoners" began the 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).


Adalah Attorney Muna Haddad and Attorney Yamen Zedan of the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs stressed in their letter that the filming and distribution of a video depicting a prisoner in his or her cell – regardless of the individual's identity – is a callous violation of the constitutional right to dignity and privacy. Needless to say, this violation is even more severe when the filmed individual is seen in a bathroom stall.


"The purpose was to besmirch and humiliate the prisoner Marwan Barghouti and to harm his public image," Attorneys Haddad and Zedan wrote. "The prison and the IPS have no authority to conduct surveillance of prisoner cells using cameras – except in cases when there exists a danger to the prisoner's life – and certainly not in order to distribute videos to the media and the public."


Adalah and the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs demand that:

  • The IPS halt all illegal filming in prisoner cells, particularly in bathroom and shower areas;
  • The IPS refrain from distributing videos that impinge upon prisoners' rights;
  • The attorney general open a criminal investigation into those responsible for filming and distributing the video the IPS claimed to be of Barghouti.


CLICK HERE to read Adalah's letter [Hebrew]


CLICK HERE to view the IPS video on Haaretz's YouTube channel