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Israeli authorities ban 54 Palestinian prisoners from family visitations

Aug. 11, 2016 10:04 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 12, 2016 12:52 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Israel Prison Service (IPS) at Israel’s Ramon prison banned 54 Palestinian prisoners from family visitations, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs reported on Thursday.

According to the committee, Israeli forces closed sections of the prison and forced Palestinian families to return to the West Bank from the Israeli checkpoint at the main entrance of the town of al-Dhahiriya near the city of Hebron.

Palestinian prisoners told the committee that they saw the actions as an attempt to humiliate and manipulate their families in order to exert pressure on the prisoners by depriving them of family visitations.

The prisoners protested the action by rejecting dinner, according to the committee.

The committee added that the Israeli government was responsible for the rising tensions across Israeli jails and called it a plan to “weaken the Palestinian prisoners’ cause.”

The decision by Israeli authorities to send back Palestinian prisoners’ families came just three days after 12 families of Palestinian prisoners held at Israel’s Beersheba prison complex were also prevented from visiting the prison.

Israeli forces also ripped the visitation permits of some of the Palestinian families at the Israeli checkpoints, the committee said in their statement.

The Israel Prison Service (IPS) has repeatedly denied family visitation for scores of Palestinian prisoners held in in prisons across the state of Israel, and some families have reported being held at Israeli checkpoints and forced to return their homes in the occupied territory, despite being granted visitation permits.

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.

However, the Palestinian Authority announced its plans on Tuesday to cover the financial expenses of the second family visit for Palestinian prisoners, while ICRC would still be responsible for arranging the visits with Israeli authorities.

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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