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The High Court of Justice on Wednesday rejected a petition by an Israeli Arab Muslim prisoner who demanded that the Prisons Service provide him with fresh bread each day over Pessah.
The petitioner, Madab Raik, is incarcerated in a prison cell that has no Jews in it. However, the cell is located in a mixed cell block in a regular prison.
Represented by attorneys Gilad Barnea and Vered Birger, Raik argued that it was his constitutional right to eat fresh bread each day.
Justices Elyakim Rubinstein and Edna Arbel rejected the petition while Supreme Court Deputy President Eliezer Rivlin partly supported it.
“It is not disproportional that for a short period of time bread will be replaced by other food in sufficient quantity to satisfy hunger,” wrote Rubinstein.
“Therefore, there is no constitutional violation in a Jewish and democratic state if bread is not supplied in cell blocks where there are Jews and non-Jews, as long as other food is supplied in proper quantity. There is no reason to raise the banner of constitutionality on every occasion.”
During the hearing on the petition, the court learned that the Prisons Service distributes quantities of packaged sliced bread, some of which is frozen, before Pessah begins to security prisoners in the three prisons where Jews are not incarcerated. The bread is enough for about four days. After that, the prisoners begin using frozen bread, which it is hoped will be enough until the end of the holiday.
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Until now, this practice was not followed in the mixed prisons for regular criminals. According to the High Court ruling, it may be applied in cell blocks where the prisoners are all non-Jews, even if the prison itself is mixed.
Raik’s cell mates are non-Jews, but the larger cell block is mixed, so he will not be eligible for this arrangement.
Arbel agreed with Rubinstein but Rivlin ruled that since Raik ate in
his cell and not in a dining room with the other prisoners in the
block, he should also be supplied with bread for the holiday, before
Pessah begins on Monday evening.
All the justices agreed that all prisoners could keep bread and other
unleavened products that they had stored in their cells before the
holiday and eat them during Pessah, as long as they did so in private
and with respect for the religious sensibilities of those who observed
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