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Gaza families resume visits to prisoners in Israeli jails but hunger strike goes on

Prisoners' support groups have said that the families of around 100 prisoners from Gaza in Israeli jails will be able to visit their loved ones from next month. Visits will be arranged by the International Committee of the Red Cross as for the first time in seven years. Such visits for other prisoners may be possible at a later date.

This development comes about two weeks after an agreement was signed with the Israeli Prison Service that includes allowing visits, ending the use of solitary confinement and limiting administrative detention. In exchange, Palestinian prisoners agreed to end the open hunger strike, although some have refused to do so and are continuing their struggle. One such prisoner is a member of the national football team; Mahmoud Sarsak, 25, is from Rafah and has been on hunger strike for 73 days.


The Prisoners' Centre for Studies said that Sarsak's family are concerned about their son, who is in Ramla Prison hospital. The Centre added that the prison authorities have breached the agreement that Sarsak was supposed to be released on 22 July through delaying his intended release date by a month. He is continuing with his hunger strike in response to that decision.

Another hunger striker is Akram Alrikhawi, 39, from Gaza, who has been detained since 7 June 2004 and is also in hospital in Ramla Prison. He has been on hunger strike for 43 days now and his health is described as "deteriorating".

A resumption of the prisoner solidarity campaign has been called for to support Sarsak and Alrikhawi before it is too late for the men.

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