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Israel: Bill banning family visits passes first reading

Israeli officers at a prison in Israel on 9 May 2017
Israeli officers at a prison in Israel on 9 May 2017 [Twitter]

The Knesset today approved a preliminary reading of proposed legislation that would deny family visits to jailed members of Palestinian resistance movement Hamas.

Proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, the bill’s first reading was approved by Knesset members in a vote of 85 to 11.

Before becoming law, a second and third reading of the bill must also be approved by the 120-member assembly.

A Knesset statement reads: “The bill proposes the revocation of visits to security prisoners… if said prisoner is a member… of a terrorist group that prevents representatives of the Israeli government, humanitarian organisations, or family members from visiting Israeli hostages held by that group.”

Read: Israel cuts hot water, family visits for female Palestinian prisoners

The legislation appears to target Hamas, which has reportedly held four Israeli prisoners of war – including two soldiers – since 2014.

According to Palestinian figures, some 6,500 Palestinians are currently languishing in Israeli prisons, including women, children and several Palestinian lawmakers. Many are held under administrative detention, without charge or trial, or on trumped up charges.

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