Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the occupied territory, the Israeli occupation authorities announced new emergency regulations in addition to a number of new military orders mainly about Palestinian prisoners. These regulations and orders included suspending all family and lawyers’ visits, leaving prisoners without any means of communications with their families. At the end of March 2020, a number of non-governmental organizations filed appeals and petitions in an attempt to allow prisoners, particularly the minors, to contact their families via phone calls. No clear answer was given to what women’s organizations filed requesting phone calls between prisons and their families. However, the Israeli occupation authorities issued a decision that allows child detainees phone calls with their families twice a week.
According to Addameer’s monitoring, female prisoners started contacting their families since early April. However, the phone calls are not systematic or regular, every couple of days one or two prisoners would be allowed phone calls. Recently, the Israeli intelligence agency issued a decision prohibiting three female prisons from contacting their families. The three prisoners are, Inas A’safred from Hebron and who was arrested with her husband in September 2019, they have two children and are still detained waiting their trail. The other prisoner is Mais Abu Gush from Qalandia refugee camp, she was arrested on 29 August 2019 and was subjected to severe physical and phycological torture and ill-treatment at al-Mascobiyya interrogation center. Finally, the previous Palestinian Legislation Council member Khalida Jarar, who is from Ramallah and was arrested on 31 October 2019, she is still detained and waiting her trail.
The Israeli occupation authorities issued an order in regards to prohibiting the entry of visitors and lawyers to prisons. This order suspended all family and lawyers’ visits and only allowed communications between the prisoner and his/her lawyer upon requests made either by the prisoner or the lawyer via phone calls. Moreover, this order allowed phone calls between prisons who are already sentenced and their lawyers with the condition of possibly scheduling a judicial hearing. Nevertheless, the prison administration is not allowing the prisoner, Khalida Jarar, from contacting her lawyer, Sahar Francis. The prison administration violated the emergency regulation by prohibiting Khalida from contacting her lawyer, the administration in fact, alleged that lawyers should be submitting applications in order to contact the prisoners which is in direct violation of the military order issued by the occupying state.
Currently, phone calls are the only means of communication between prisoners, their families and their lawyers. The Israeli intelligence agency arbitrarly prohibiting three female prisoners from contacting their families is part of the occupation authority’s policy of collective and arbitrary punishment. According to international humanitarian laws, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention, female prisoners have the right to contact their families.