Israeli occupation authorities are maintaining harsh restrictions for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who wish to visit relatives in Israeli jails, reported B’Tselem.
Out of more than 5,000 Palestinian prisoners, 303 are from the Gaza Strip, including some arrested before Israel’s removal of settlers in 2005.
In 2012, after a five-year complete ban on family visits to prisoners from Gaza, Israeli authorities have been allowing visits “but subject to draconian limitations”, described B’Tselem.
Parents, spouses and children – under 16 – of prisoners are allowed to visit, once every two months. Siblings, meanwhile, “are permitted to visit only if their parents are deceased or gravely ill and if the prisoner is unmarried”, and even then, “visits are allowed only once every six months”.
Nisrin Jaber, 43, a preschool teacher interviewed by B’Tselem, has only seen her brother Muhammad twice since 2012, when family visits were reinstated. “Nisrin and her sister Nur, 26, have submitted more than 10 requests to visit their brother since 2016. Only two were approved.”
In addition to limiting the number of visitors and the frequency of visits, B’Tselem noted, “since July 2017 Israel has also banned all visits to 1,329 Hamas-affiliated, most of whom are from the West Bank and some from Gaza.”
“Even when families are permitted to make prison visits, the journey – organized by the Red Cross – is exhausting and long, leaving home before dawn and returning late in the evening,” B’Tselem said.
“During the visits, which last only 45-60 minutes, the prisoners are kept apart from their visitors by a glass partition and communicate with them via a prison phone line.”