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Israel reduces family visitation rights for Palestinian detainees

September 1, 2023 at 4:00 pm

A group of Palestinians perform a demonstration in support of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, carrying posters and photos of the detainees in Gaza City, Gaza on August 09, 2023. [Ali Jadallah – Anadolu Agency]

The far-right Israeli Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, has directed the Israeli Prison Service to reduce family visitation for Palestinian detainees imprisoned in Israeli jails from once a month to once every two months.

Ben-Gvir stated on Friday, “The Prison Service must strictly adhere to the legal requirement of family visits for security prisoners every two months. As soon as I became aware of this situation, I immediately instructed compliance with the law.”

According to Haaretz, the decision was announced despite objections from both the Shin Bet security service and the Israel Prison Service, both of which have cautioned that it could risk the security situation.

In response, the head of the Palestinian Prisoners Authority informed Haaretz that they would not let this action pass without resistance. They anticipate a hunger strike in two weeks, if this measure remains in effect.

Moreover, Palestinian Prisoner’s Society Chairman, Qaddura Fares, in a statement, criticised the move as discriminatory. He said Ben-Gvir’s decision is part of a “racist and retaliatory approach aimed at harming the prisoners and their families. This decision infringes upon the basic rights of the Palestinian prisoners, in clear violation of both Israeli laws and international legal standards.”

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Fares emphasised that Ben-Gvir’s decision was made to cause hardship for both the detainees and their families and to test the Palestinian people’s resolve. He highlighted that the Palestinian community will steadfastly support the prisoners in their struggle for dignity and their rights.

“Israel’s continued targeting of our prisoners will be the focal point of the next confrontation with the Israeli occupation, involving all Palestinian factions, forces and institutions rallying behind the cause of the prisoners. This united stance will ultimately defeat this dangerous and fascist approach, driven by a sense of failure and frustration on the part of Ben-Gvir, who has been unable to fulfil the promises he made during his election campaign,” he added.

The move comes after the Palestine Centre for Prisoners’ Studies earlier this month warned against Ben-Gvir’s continued targeting of Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails and his recommendations that they be further limited and harassed.

Some 1,000 detainees have now threatened to go on hunger strike in protest against Ben-Gvir’s latest measures against them. Many are being held under administrative detention – without charge or trial.

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