Gaza families visit jailed relatives in Israel
Published Monday 09/12/2013 (updated) 10/12/2013 17:33
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Family members of Gaza prisoners held in Israeli jails on Monday left the Gaza Strip to Israel via Erez crossing to visit 51 prisoners in Rimon prison, a Red Cross spokesman said.
Amjad Najjar told Ma'an that 94 relatives of prisoners including 23 children below 10 left via Erez early Monday. Travel procedures went smoothly without major impediments, he added.
The Israeli authorities had allowed Gaza families to visit their jailed relatives in Israel in July 2012 for the first time since 2007. The move came after Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody staged a long hunger strike.
In 2007, Israel started limiting what it considered privileges for Hamas and Gaza prisoners in a bid to put pressure on Hamas to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held in Gaza until fall 2011.
5,200 Palestinians were being held in Israeli jails as of Oct. 2013, according to the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs. Another 1,280 are in Israeli prisons for being inside Israel without permits.
Since 1967, more than 650,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel, representing 20% of the total population and 40% of all males in the occupied territories.
Under international law, it is illegal to transfer prisoners outside of the occupied territory in which they are detained, and the families of Palestinian prisoners' face many obstacles in obtaining permits to see their imprisoned relatives.