Twenty-four Palestinians detainees were permitted family visits at their Israeli jails on Monday as the result of a deal between Israeli authorities and hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners. Forty Gazans visited their relatives at Ramon prison for the first time since Israel banned family visits in 2007 when Palestinian militants abducted an Israeli soldier. Under the terms of the agreement prisoners' relatives in the Gaza Strip will be permitted weekly family visits, an arrangement reached earlier this year to end a month-long hunger strike [Reuters report] by 1,600 Palestinian prisoners demanding better detention conditions and the end of detention without trial for terrorism suspects. The Palestinians ended their hunger strike and Israel agreed to reinstitute family visits but refused to end the policy of detention without trial in the Egypt-brokered deal between the parties. Children and gifts are not permitted in the 60-minute visit sessions at Ramon prison, which is reached from Gaza by a 14-hour trip through the Negev desert.
Israel has been continuously criticized for its treatment of Palestinian detainees. Last month UN Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories Richard Falk [official website] called on Israel to release two Palestinians on hunger strike [JURIST report] after they fell into ill health. That week Amnesty International (AI) urged Israel to release all prisoners [JURIST report] of conscience and administrative detainees or immediately try them under international fair trial standards. In May UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Israel to try or release the 1,600 Palestinian prisoners [JURIST report] who had been on hunger strike, to avoid health risks. Earlier the same month the Israeli Supreme Court ruled against [JURIST report] two detainees who had been on hunger strike in their appeal seeking release from detention. During the same month Falk expressed his concern [JURIST report] for the continued human rights violations in Israel's prisons. He called on the country to comply with the international standards of how to treat detainees.