[Ppnews] Violation of the Right to Visit Palestinians Held in Israeli Prisons

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Oct 27 11:58:04 EDT 2006

Barred from Contact: Violation of the Right to Visit Palestinians 
Held in Israeli Prisons
Report, B'Tselem, 26 October 2006


Four-year-old boy travels alone to visit his father imprisoned in 
Israel holds in prison more than 9,000 Palestinians from the West 
Bank and Gaza Strip. The vast majority are held in prisons situated 
inside Israel's sovereign territory, and not in the Occupied Territories.

Holding these prisoners and detainees in Israel flagrantly breaches 
international humanitarian law, which prohibits the transfer of 
civilians, including detainees and prisoners, from the occupied 
territory to the territory of the occupying state. Israel's disregard 
for this prohibition is one of the main reasons that the prisoners 
and their families are unable to exercise their right to visits in a 
reasonable manner.

This report sheds light on the many difficulties and the suffering 
faced by the prisoners' families, residents of the West Bank and the 
Gaza Strip, in their efforts to visit their relatives imprisoned in Israel.

Although Israel has the obligation to enable residents of the 
Occupied Territories to exercise their right to visit their relatives 
imprisoned in Israel, the task has been performed, since 1969, by the 
International Committee of the Red Cross. Relatives from the Occupied 
Territories who want to visit can do so only on the designated 
visiting days and on the transportation that the ICRC organizes, 
provided they received the relevant permit from the Israeli military 

Because of the obstacles entailed in obtaining a permit to enter 
Israel, many Palestinians are able to visit their imprisoned 
relatives only once every few months. Many others are denied a permit 
and are thus unable to visit at all. In addition, the visit itself 
entails a grueling journey that can take almost 24 hours because of 
the checks and delays.

'Udai and Sabrin on their way to vist one of their brothers. 
Israel's arbitrary and disproportionate policy not only infringes the 
right to family visits, it also results in violation of other rights 
and principles of international humanitarian and human rights law, as 
well as domestic Israeli law. Another consequence of the policy is 
the large number of minors, some of them only four or five years old, 
who make the visit alone, without an adult accompanying them. The 
visit, usually held behind a reinforced glass wall that does not 
allow any physical contact between the visitors and their imprisoned 
relatives, is a difficult experience in itself. The prohibition on 
physical contact also applies to all minors, age six and above, that 
are visiting their parents or siblings.

In light of the report's findings, B'Tselem urges the government of 
Israel to transfer all Palestinian prisoners to detention facilities 
inside the Occupied Territories. If the transfer requires the 
building of new facilities, Israel must ensure that it constructs the 
facilities while respecting the rights of the residents of the 
Occupied Territories, in particular their property rights.
Also, so long as Palestinians are held inside Israel, B'Tselem calls 
on the government of Israel to:

ease the granting of permits to enter Israel for family visits;
increase the speed and efficiency of issuing permits;
take measures to shorten the travel time to and from the prison, and 
ease the hardships entailed in the visits;
refrain from imposing a sweeping restriction on all minor children 
from maing physical contact with the prisoners, and improve the 
conditions in which the prisoners and their relatives communicate 
with each other during the visits.

Download the 
report: Barred from Contact: Violation of the right to Visit 
Palestinians Held in Israeli Prisons (Word document)

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