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Israel: Find Solution for Prisoners’ Families

Petition to High Court: Find Solution for Prisoners’ Families

The Health Rights Project, operated jointly by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and the Adva Center, filed a petition to the Israeli High Court today against the Minister of Labor and Welfare and the National Insurance Institute (NII) demanding that an arrangement be found regarding the income maintenance allowance for prisoners’ wives, residents of the occupied territories, who lack status in Israel.

The families represented in the petition are locked in a difficult situation which affects their basic needs: the husbands are in jail and the wives, due to their lack of legal status, are unable to work and for the same reason do not receive government allowances as single parents. This leaves the families without any means of financing their basic needs, especially those of their children. They become completely dependent on relatives and charity, and their daily struggle to survive is very difficult and uncertain.

Background: The husbands are citizens or residents of Israel. The wives are residents of the occupied territories. The family unification process, which is intended to grant them residency and accompanied social rights, is stopped as soon as the husbands are sent to jail. The children are citizens or residents as they receive status from their father.

The petitioners, represented by Adv. Yohanna Lerman, are demanding that a solution be found for the plight of these families- the Minister of Labor and Welfare is asked to use his authority, as defined in NII Act section 378(B)(1), to recognize these women as a unique case according to the NII- recognition that would grant them the allowance needed for themselves and their children.

According to the petitioners, abandoning these families without any protection against hunger and dire poverty stands in contradiction to international law, which defines the obligations of the state to work to fight poverty and assure a minimum income, as a precondition for health. The state’s handling of the situation and its failure to find a solution for these families is a violation of the obligation to provide for basic dignified living as well as a violation of the child’s right to social security.

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