Palestinian prisoners riot in Israeli jails after inmate’s death


Palestinian prisoners rioted in at least four Israeli prisons after the death of an inmate from cancer.

Maysara Abuhamdieh, 64, died Tuesday at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. Palestinian officials and Palestinian human rights organizations accused the Israel Prison Service of withholding medical treatment.

Prisoners reportedly banged on their cell doors and threw objects at guards upon hearing of Abuhamdieh's death, The riots occurred at Eshel Prison, where Abuhamdieh had been imprisoned, as well as at Ramon, Nafha and Ketziot prisons. Palestinians also threw firebombs and rioted in the Hebron area, according to Army Radio. 

Abuhamdieh, believed to be working for the terrorist group Hamas, was sentenced to life in prison for recruiting an operative to carry out a 2002 suicide bombing attack on a Jerusalem café.

He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in February, and placed under medical supervision. The prison service last week requested a pardon for Abuhamdieh, after determining that his cancer was terminal. He died before the procedure could be completed, according to reports in the Israeli media.

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Judge rules U.S. inmate has no right to matzah


A U.S. federal judge has ruled that an inmate in a New York jail does not have a constitutionally protected right to matzah and grape juice.

Christopher Henry, who was charged with first-degree sodomy, claimed permanent trauma and malnourishment and requested nearly $10 billion in damages for what he called a violation of his First Amendment right to religious freedom.

Henry didn’t request matzah for Passover, the Jewish holiday during which it is traditionally eaten. Instead, Henry claimed he had a right to have the unleavened bread served daily and grape juice every Friday.

But on Aug. 2, U.S. Southern District Judge Shira Scheindlin held that the Rikers Island jail could deny Henry his request in the interests of maintaining order and keeping costs reasonable.

“Providing individualized meals to a single inmate might well foster an impression of favoritism, which could lead to jealousy and resentment among the inmate population, which in turn could cause tension and threaten prison security,” she wrote.

“Similarly, providing individualized meals to one or several inmates would involve a substantial increase in administrative costs.”

Scheindlin noted that Henry already receives Kosher meals and is allowed to meet with a rabbi.

Henry, who represented himself, has filed a number of lawsuits against the department of corrections, including claims based on the permitted length of phone calls and lack of conjugal visits.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Noeleen Walder)

Montana inmate sues for kosher food


An inmate in Montana Women’s Prison is suing the state corrections office and prison officials for not providing her with kosher food.

Shelley Tischler claimed in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Billings, Mont., that she is Jewish and eats kosher food. She claims that prison officials are denying her kosher food, and that fellow inmates and prison staff are directing slurs about her Jewish faith at her, according to The Billings Gazette.

Tischler is accusing the state corrections office, as well as a prison warden and deputy wardens, of having “knowingly, willfully and maliciously withheld basic religious accommodations.”

Tischler acknowledged in the complaint that at times she has been able to purchase her own kosher food for Jewish holidays. Prison officials also have offered to prepare kosher-style meals, which Tischler has said is not acceptable.

Tischler was sentenced in 2005 to 20 years in prison for negligent homicide. She has served some of her sentence at the Montana State Hospital.

She is asking for an injunction requiring that she and other Jewish inmates be provided with kosher food, at least on holy days and more frequently, if requested. She is also seeking a jury trial and punitive damages.

Inmates’ rights were violated on kosher meals, judge rules


The Indiana Department of Corrections violated federal law when it substituted vegan meals for kosher for its inmates, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Court Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson made the ruling last week in Indianapolis in response to a class-action suit filed last year against the department by Matson Willis, an Orthodox Jewish inmate at the Miami Correctional Facility.

The meals reportedly were changed in order to cut costs. The judge said the change violated the religious rights of Willis.

Some 90 to 120 inmates were affected by the change, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

A hearing set for Nov. 30 will decide what actions the department must take going forward.