The +972 Magazine has reported that Israel claims incarcerated Palestinian children pose a threat to national security just like adults — and therefore can’t contact their families.
Ahmad Sabri, a 17-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank town of Qalqilya, has been incarcerated in Israel’s Megiddo Prison since March 2019. Since the coronavirus crisis began earlier this year, Sabri, a “security prisoner,” has been subjected to restrictions that bar him from making phone calls or receiving visits from lawyers and family members.
Last October, Sabri petitioned the Nazareth District Court asking that he be allowed to make phone calls to his family, with the same rights as criminal prisoners. But the court rejected the petition, claiming that the “temporary regulations” enacted due to the pandemic already allow minors to call their families under supervision.
The court added that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) is preparing to conduct a pilot program that allows minors to make phone calls in prisons different from the one Sabri is incarcerated in. That program was initiated in response to a hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners last year, which compelled the IPS to install public phones in security wings and allow up to three phone calls for each prisoner per week, for a maximum of 15 minutes.
Palestinian security prisoners in Israel, and minors in particular, are suffering from deteriorating conditions as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Without phone calls and visits, these prisoners have been cut off from the world for months — with no end in sight. As of August, there were 140 Palestinian minors in Israeli prisons, according to the rights group Addameer.