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Religious prisoner’s rights violated

Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 13:58 The Israeli Prison Services has transferred a prisoner classified as strictly Torah observant to a cell which has an atmosphere that is not consistent with his level of observance. The prisoner who has been sentenced to one year in prison for participating in clashes with Arabs was transferred approximately 10 days ago to a high security wing in the Ayalon Prison. Although he receives only food certified according to very strict kashrut standards, as prison regulations stipulate, and which indicates his level of observance, there is a television in the cell which is left on on Shabbat, contrary to the religious prisoner’s beliefs. Despite his requests, the Prison Services refuse to transfer him to a room with a religious cell mate or alternatively to a cell where he would be alone. He threatened to harm himself if he was not transferred and was subsequently sent for a medical examination. After the examination the Prison Services demanded that he return to the same cell. He refused and was charged with “refusal to be absorbed in the wing” and sent to solitary confinement for one week. His canteen and visitation privileges were also canceled. Honenu filed an urgent request to have the prisoner removed from solitary confinement and transferred to a cell with conditions consistent with his beliefs and way of life. Honenu attorney Rehavia Piltz sent a letter to the commander of the Ayalon Prison in which he stated that it is not clear on what legal grounds the prisoner was sentenced to solitary confinement. Piltz questioned the conduct of the prison services: “How can a strictly religious prisoner in the State of Israel not be allowed conditions which respect his religious way of life? Why are the Prison Services harassing my client and insulting him so deeply? My client’s request was basic and humanitarian: that he be allowed to stay in a cell which does not violate his values or his traditions,” Piltz added that, “As a citizen of the State of Israel I hope that the Prison Service authorities change their conduct as quickly as possible. They are violating the religious freedom of a prisoner whose only request was to be able to maintain his religious way of life.”

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