Some family visits to begin for only 25 Gaza prisoners

Ma’an News reported on Saturday, July 14 that, once again showing their violations of the May 14 agreement to end the mass hunger strike, the Israeli prison service will only now begin allowing families of Gaza prisoners to visit (a key demand of the strike recognized in the agreement), but only for 25 prisoners and on a “limited”, “experimental” basis:

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.