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Israeli authorities deny families of Palestinian prisoners entry into Israel

Aug. 6, 2016 1:50 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 7, 2016 5:55 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Several Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s Ashkelon prison filed complaints against Israeli forces and authorities after their family members were denied entry through Israeli-controlled checkpoints despite holding Israeli permits for family visitations, according to a statement released Saturday by a lawyer from the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs.

Karim Ajwa said in the statement that the complaints were filed against the prison administration and Israeli security forces after families were denied passage through checkpoints. The family members included the wife of prisoner Nasr Abu Hmeid, the mother of Haitham Salhiya, the brother of Muhammad Abu Shahin, the mother and daughter of Issam al-Froukh, the brothers of Yusif Nazal, and the brother of Majdi Sabanah.

The committee stated that such actions were part of a broader system of arbitrary punishments imposed on Palestinian prisoners and their families, adding that several other families have complained of their permits being ripped up at checkpoints by Israeli soldiers and being denied entry for scheduled visitations.

The committee also urged the the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which is responsible for arranging most family visits for Palestinian prisoners, to intervene and stop acts that violate humanitarian laws and the rights of the prisoners.

The incidents came amid widespread protest over the ICRC’s recent cuts to family visitations, reducing arranged visits for male Palestinian prisoners from two days a month to just one.

Since families of Palestinian prisoners often experience rejection or long-term delays of their permit applications to visit prisons in Israel, including incidents at checkpoints that prevent them from crossing even after they have been issued permits, Palestinians are heavily reliant on ICRC-arranged visitations, as ICRC buses transport Palestinians to and from the prisons and act as an institutional medium between the families and Israeli authorities.
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