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Israeli forces assault Palestinian prisoners, relatives

Israeli prison forces attacked a number of Palestinian prisoners and their relatives during a family visit to Eshel prison yesterday morning.

Security guards used pepper spray on both the prisoners and their family members and beat them with batons, relatives told Ma'an.

The father of prisoner Omar Al-Sharif told Ma'an that the families had travelled from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem to Eshel prison more than 100 kilometres away in Israel's southern Negev desert.

The families arrived at 07:30 and were not allowed inside until 12:00, he said, when both men and women were subjected to invasive and "provocative" searches at the hands of the Israel Prison Service (IPS).

Heated arguments erupted in the visitation room, until a group of IPS officers stormed the room and attacked prisoners and their family members with pepper spray and beat them with batons, before the prisoners were handcuffed and the visitors were forced out.

Another visitor, the father of prisoners Muhammad and Ahmad Al-Bakri said IPS officers treated visiting relatives harshly from the moment the arrived.

"After going through inspections at the entrance and passing through the metal detectors, female IPS soldiers searched the women inside a separate room, and forced them to take off their headscarves and jewellery."

Al-Bakri described the search as "an unprecedented provocation".

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