High court rules against terrorist visitation rights

In 2017, Minister Gilad Erdan ordered the Israel Prison Service to cancel the visits of families of Hamas terrorists from Gaza who are incarcerated in Israel.

By ALEX WINSTON
June 5, 2019 07:49
2 minute read.
Ofer Prison

Ofer Prison. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

 
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The Israel High Court of Justice rejected a petition by Hamas members from Gaza against Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan's decision to prevent visits by families of incarcerated prisoners in Israel.

The High Court of Justice accepted the position of Erdan and ruled that the decision on family visits could also be based on considerations of state security and rejected the claims of Hamas representatives.

In 2017, Erdan ordered the Israel Prison Service not to approve the visits of families of Hamas terrorists from Gaza who are incarcerated in Israel in order to exert additional pressure on the organization to return Israeli citizens and the bodies of IDF soldiers being held by Hamas. 

"It is unreasonable and immoral to allow despicable terrorists to have family visits as long as Hamas holds the bodies of our soldiers and Israeli citizens," Erdan said. "I welcome the High Court of Justice's ruling rejecting the petition against my decision... I will continue to act against the terrorists in prison until their prison terms fall to the minimum required by law."

Supreme Court Justice Neal Hendel wrote in the decision that, "As is well known, the return of prisoners and missing persons in and of itself is a goal and an interest that is included within the framework of national security. And in this court ruling, it was also stated that this is a supreme interest and there is great reason for this. Just as the protection of the lives of the residents of the state and its soldiers is a primary security interest, so too must the return of our soldiers after they have fallen into enemy hands. Therefore, there is no doubt that the minister should take into account the decisions of the Ministerial Committee on National Security."

The family of Lt. Hadar Goldin, whose body is still being held by Hamas in Gaza joined as a respondent to the petition and welcomed the ruling, calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to toughen conditions on Hamas prisoners.

In a statement the Goldin family said, "We now expect Netanyahu to toughen the conditions of the prisoners and put effective pressure on Hamas. If the Government of Israel implements and fulfills the Cabinet's decisions, we will be able to bring Hadar, Oron [Shaul], Avera [Mengistu] and Hisham [al-Sayed] back home in the best agreement since the end of the Yom Kippur War."

Attorney Svorai, who represented the Goldin family said afterwards, "After the Supreme Court has spoken, no further claims will be made regarding legal difficulties that seemingly prevent the imposition of additional restrictions on Hamas prisoners incarcerated in Israel in order to promote the return of the sons [of Israel]."

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