Defense lawyers for Palestinians in the IDF’s West Bank Courts have started a process to seek changes in policies regarding how they are treated.
Speaking to some of the lawyers this past week, they said that they have already held meetings and in the near future plan to formally request changes from the IDF’s West Bank Courts.
Specifically, the lawyers reject a recent order from the Israel Prisons Service (IPS) that stated that two lawyers could not bring their cellphones into the IDF Courts part of the Camp Ofer complex.
Though the Camp Ofer complex contains the majority of the offices for the IDF’s Judea and Samaria Courts and IDF Prosecution, because it also separately is the site of Ofer Prison, the IPS also manages the civilian entrance to the courts portion of the complex.
A leading defense lawyer for Palestinians, Khaled Alaraj, told The Jerusalem Post: “The IPS cannot replace the president of the courts,” adding that lawyers’ rights should be governed by the courts and not by the IPS.
Another leading defense lawyer for Palestinians, Lea Tsemel, confirmed that there were ongoing discussions among the lawyers to get IDF West Bank Courts Chief Justice Col. Netanel Benishu to clarify the issue.
Tsemel said that past collective cooperation by the defense lawyers succeeded in getting the courts to provide a Muslim prayer space for the lawyers by 2017, after there had been a Jewish prayer space for years.
According to Haaretz, the two lawyers who were prohibited by the IPS from bringing their cellphones into the courts complex were Ahlaem Hadad and Anan Oudeh.
According to the IDF, they were prevented by the IPS from bringing their cellphones into the courts complex after they violated a court order banning publication of photos of a beaten Palestinian client, when they forwarded the photos to others who then posted the photos on social media.
The lawyers reportedly have said that they only shared the photos with the beaten Palestinians’ family members and had told the family members not to share them publicly.
In any event, the lawyers for Palestinians as a group said that absent a hearing and written ruling by the IDF West Bank Courts themselves, the IPS had no basis to place restrictions on them.
The Palestinian was allegedly beaten approximately two weeks ago during a wider confrontation between Palestinian prisoners and the IPS.
The IPS reportedly undertook a surprise search for cellphones being illegally held and used by Ofer prisoners, mostly affiliated with Islamic Jihad.
Reportedly around 20 illegally concealed cellphones were found, but dozens, or up to 140 prisoners were injured during the confrontation.
Prisoners are not permitted cellphone use, but it is an open secret that they get cellphones smuggled in both in order to speak to family members, but also sometimes to coordinate with terrorist operatives outside the prison.