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Israel to allow family visits for some Gaza prisoners

July 15, 2012 12:31 A.M. (Updated: July 16, 2012 9:49 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Authority prisoners minister said Saturday that the Israeli Prison Service will allow the families of 25 Gaza prisoners to visit their loved ones in jail on an "experimental basis."

Issa Qaraqe said the families will be able to visit starting July 16 but will be limited. There is still some opposition to letting Gaza's 473 prisoners receive visits, he said.

Some of the limitations put in place include a ban on children while the Rimon prison is not allowed visitors at all, the official said, calling Israel's policy toward detainees "collective punishment."

Israel started limiting what it considers privileges for Hamas and Gaza prisoners in a bid to put pressure on Hamas to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held in Gaza until last fall.

The visitors issue was one of the key demands of the hundreds of prisoners who went on a hunger strike in the spring.

In a deal to end the strike, Israeli authorities agreed to allow limited personal visits.

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