No More Prison Visits for Hamas Members in Israeli Jails, State Tells Court

But families awaiting remains of two soldiers killed in Gaza say it isn’t enough

 An International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) convoy carrying released Palestninian prisoners leaves the Ofer military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Friday, Oct. 2, 2009

The government has stopped visits to Hamas prisoners from Gaza by their families in the West Bank over the past few weeks, said a lawyer representing the government to the High Court of Justice on Thursday.

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The announcement came as part of the government’s response to a petition submitted by the family of 1st Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was declared killed in action during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in the summer of 2014 – but Hamas is still holding some of his remains. This means that as a rule, Hamas prisoners are not receiving any regular family visits.

The Goldin family petitioned the High Court in November 2017 against the cabinet in an attempt to force the government to take action against Hamas to return the bodies of Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul, who was also declared dead during the Gaza war and whose body Hamas still refuses to hand over. Shaul’s family now refuses to accept his death.

The Goldin family asked the High Court to order the government not to return the bodies of any more Hamas terrorists and to make the conditions for Hamas members in Israeli prisons harsher.

A three-judge panel of Supreme Court justices is hearing the case: Neal Hendel, Uri Shoham and Yosef Elron.

Thursday’s hearing dealt mostly with the issue of allowing Hamas members and their families to enter Israel for humanitarian reasons. The Goldin family, represented by attorneys Prof. Aviad Hacohen and Oded Svorai, says the government should adhere strictly to a cabinet decision from January 2017 on the matter, which would completely ban any such visits to Israel, including those for medical treatments.

Goldin’s parents, Leah and Professor Simcha Goldin, said after the hearing, “The time has come to make it clear to Hamas and its people that the days of medical treatments in Israel are over and from now and until the soldiers are returned, these treatments will be provided in Qatar, Turkey, Egypt and Jordan.”

In an exceptional step, the justices allowed Professor Goldin to speak briefly at the hearing. He told the court that Netanyahu “led the security cabinet to pass a decision to apply pressure on Hamas, but we have seen that this decision is not being implemented. If it was possible, I would demand to bring the prime minister here to provide answers to the family and all Israeli citizens as to why these decisions are not being carried out. Those who take mercy on the cruel, are being cruel to the families of the captives.”

Hamas is also allegedly holding two Israeli civilians with mental health issues who crossed the border into Gaza, Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, and has denied their families and the Red Cross any information about them and their condition.