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Israel cancels Palestinian family-prisoner visits

March 25, 2019 4:20 P.M. (Updated: March 27, 2019 3:17 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities have announced temporary cancellation of all family visits from Gaza to Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons that were scheduled for Monday until further notice.

According to the Erez (Beit Hanoun) crossing media office, Israeli forces returned a bus full of 23 Palestinian passengers, who were planning on visiting their relatives held in Eshel prison, due to the closure of the crossing.

Sources added that the Israeli prison administration cancelled all family-prisoner visits until further notice after a Gaza rocket struck an Israeli house in central Israel.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is in charge of coordinating with Israeli authorities to arrange family visitations for Palestinian prisoners and eases visitations for Gaza residents on a regular basis.

Since 1968, the ICRC has been facilitating family visits to detainees held in Israel. Family contacts are ensured through Red Cross messages, oral greetings, and the ICRC family visit program, coordinated with Israeli authorities.

Consequently, family members of Palestinian prisoners have less access to their relatives, as they need difficult-to-obtain permits from Israel and have to undertake long trips to see their loved ones, with checks and waiting times when crossing Israeli checkpoints and at the prison.

According to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, Palestinians are entitled to family visits, which can “only be limited for security reasons, on a case by case basis, but never for strictly punitive or disciplinary purposes.”

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