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Gaza families visit relatives in Israeli jails for first time in five years


Gaza families visit relatives in Israeli jails for first time in five years

Palestinian families from Gaza have been able to visit their relatives held in Israeli jails for the first time in five years.

The move came as part of a deal reached in May that ended a mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners.

Families of around two dozen inmates – 40 people in all – were taken across the border, overseen by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Ayman Shhabi of the Red Cross in Gaza described it as a “step in the right direction”.

Israel banned family visits in 2007 after the militant group Hamas came to power in Gaza.

Now more relatives of the hundreds of prisoners in Israeli jails can be optimistic. The Prisons Service says visits will be held on a weekly basis.

Um Wael Al-Asar, the mother of Palestinian prisoner Fares Al-Asar, said: “We were so happy when we heard that we would be able to visit our son, but when our names were not on the list we were very sad. Hopefully they will be on it in the future and we’ll be able to visit him to ensure he’s ok, especially after the hunger strike they went through.”

Last October, 1,000 Palestinian prisoners were freed in exchange for an Israeli soldier who had been held captive.

The resumption of family visits was one of the conditions demanded by other Palestinian inmates who went on hunger strike.

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