On prisoners, family life and collective punishment: The Namnam case

Yaël Ronen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the 2019 decision by the Supreme Court of Israel (the Court) in the Namnam case, upholding a ban on family visits to Gaza prisoners incarcerated in Israel and affiliated with Hamas.1 This ban was adopted as part of Israel’s attempt to pressure Hamas into an exchange of Palestinian detainees and prisoners against missing Israeli civilians and the bodies of Israeli soldiers, apparently being held by Hamas in Gaza. The Court examined the measure primarily in light of Israeli administrative law, and held that it had no grounds to intervene. It held that an analysis under international law would have yielded the same result. This article examines the decision of the Court in light of the applicable international law. It considers the Court’s decision in terms of the permissible restrictions on the right to family life and draws on the Court’s reasoning for an in-depth analysis of various unarticulated aspects of the prohibition on collective punishment. The article concludes that an international human rights law analysis might have led to a different outcome, and that had the Court applied the prohibition on collective punishment properly, it would have had to declare the measure unlawful. The article then places the decision in the broader context of the Court’s engagement with international law in disputes relating to Palestinians residing in the West Bank and Gaza.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1273-1292
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Review of the Red Cross
Issue number915
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2021.


  • Collective punishment
  • Gaza
  • Hamas
  • International human rights law
  • Israel
  • Prisoners’ rights
  • Right to family life
  • Supreme Court of Israel


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