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80 Palestinians from Gaza visit their imprisoned relatives in Israel

Feb. 13, 2017 5:26 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 13, 2017 5:26 P.M.)
GAZA (Ma’an) -- Tens of Palestinians were able to visit their imprisoned relatives in Israeli custody Monday morning, local sources told Ma'an.   

The 80 Palestinians traveled via Israel's Erez border crossing from the Gaza Strip to visit their incarcerated relatives in Nafha prison in southern Israel.

According to Palestinian prisoners' rights group Addameer, some 350 of the 6,500 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel as of January are from the Gaza Strip.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) arranges visits for family members of Gazan prisoners, which were suspended by Israeli authorities in June 2007 when Hamas came to power in the coastal enclave.

All communication between Gazan prisoners and the outside world was effectively cut off, Addameer has reported, and during a Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike in April 2012, one of the prisoners' key demands was that the program be reinstated.

Israel agreed to resume the visits on the conclusion of the hunger strike, although Addameer has said that not all Gazan prisoners have been allowed to receive visitors.

The Gaza Strip has been under a crippling blockade since Hamas took power in 2007. The nearly two million residents of Gaza are largely confined to the small strip of coastal land, save those who are granted travel or work permits via Israel's borders, or the special "humanitarian cases" who are allowed to pass through Egypt's Rafah crossing, which opens sporadically.
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