The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel – Adalah, filed a petition on Monday, demanding the Israeli high court to issue an order of injunction instructing the “Israel Prison Authority” (IPA) to allow the children of prisoners classified by the IPA as security prisoners to have physical contact with their parents during prison visits.

In the petition, Adalah attorney Abeer Baker argued that the IPA’s decision of 2002 to deny physical contact between children and their incarcerated parents is illegal, as the IPA is not authorized to introduce such limitations on family visits.

“The decision infringes the constitutional right to dignity; violates the child’s right to receive love from both parents; contradicts and neglects the principle of acting in the best interests of the child; is discriminatory; and constitutes illegal and collective punishment”, Baker said.

Adalah further argued in the petition that the IPA’s decision gravely harms the right of prisoners with children to equality and dignity, as well as their right to family visits, and therefore should be canceled.

The Israeli Prison Authority, cancelled two years ago, an order which allows children, below the age of 10, to have physical contact with their detained parents during visitation.

According to the law, Adalah added, “any prisoner and detainee is entitled to receive family visits”, nevertheless, visitations are conducted with a glass wall separating the prisoners from their children and any other visitors.

“The Israeli prison authorities started limiting physical contact between prisoners classified as security prisoners and their children in May 2002, after an alleged attempt by a child to smuggle a proscribed object to his imprisoned father”, Adalah added.

Preventing the detainees from having physical contact with their families, contradicts the International law and the Israeli law which is applied and effective on prisoners detained fro criminal charges.

According to Article 9(3), of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), “State parties must respect the right of children separated from one or both of their parents to continue engaging in a personal, direct, and physical relationship with them”.

Some 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners housed in three main Israeli jails began a hunger strike Sunday morning. Prisoners are drinking water but not eating.

In reaction to the strike, the Prisons Service imposed additional restrictions, removing radios and television sets from jail cells, did not distribute newspapers, canceled family visits and stopped selling cigarettes.