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PA to cover expenses of second monthly family visits for Palestinian prisoners

Aug. 9, 2016 5:09 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 11, 2016 5:51 P.M.)
(File)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas approved a decision to cover all financial expenses of a second family visitation session for families of Palestinian prisoners currently held in Israeli prisons, according to the head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS).

Qadura Fares said in an interview on Radio Mawtiny that the decision was made following a recent decision by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to reduce family visitations for male Palestinian prisoners from two times a month to just one.

Abbas reportedly decided to cover the expenses of the second visitation for families of Palestinian prisoners through a fund managed by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The reduction of family visits sparked unrest across Israel’s prisons, with several Palestinian prisoners announcing an open hunger strike until the decision was reversed, and widespread protests staged across the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

On Monday, members and leaders of the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) announced a solidarity hunger strike outside ICRC’s office in Gaza City, joining more than 80 PFLP-affiliated prisoners currently on hunger strike.

Fares said that the PA was expected to sign an agreement with ICRC that would oblige the PA to pay for all expenses of the second monthly visitations while ICRC would continue issuing visitation permits to families of Palestinian prisoners.

Fares added that family visitations were guaranteed to Palestinian prisoners under international law.

A spokesperson for ICRC was not able to immediately comment on the agreement.

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 preventing 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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