RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian prisoner held in Israeli custody has been deprived of regular family visits for more than three years, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) reported on Wednesday.
Ali Muhammad Hassan, 47, from the northern occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya, has not had regular family visits for more than three years the statement said. Hassan, a father of six, has been serving a life sentence plus seven years in Israeli prison since 2004.
The statement quoted Hassan’s wife as saying that all of his family members were banned from entering Israel for “security reasons.”
However, "family members are occasionally allowed to visit Hassan every few months," she added.
She also highlighted that her husband suffered from severe health complications, including walking difficulties and dyspnea -- a medical complication that causes tightening of the chest and issues in breathing.
A spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who assists in organizing family visits for Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons, was not immediately available to comment on Hassan’s case.
According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, since the Second Intifada in 2000, families of Palestinian prisoners -- excluding those with Jerusalem residency IDs or Israeli passports -- must apply for special Israeli entry permits in order to visit family members in Israeli custody.
The application process, which is managed by the ICRC, can last between one and three months, and is only valid for one year.
Family visitations are also restricted to immediate family members, while Palestinian men between the ages of 16 and 35 are commonly barred from visiting Israeli prisons. “In practice hundreds of families fail to receive permits at all, based on undisclosed ‘security grounds,’” Addameer noted.
However, even after receiving permits to visit relatives in Israeli prison, many Palestinians are turned away at Israeli checkpoints en route to family prison visits inside Israel.
According to the group, 6,500 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prisons as of January, 458 of whom are serving life sentences.