The Israeli authorities, who continue to detain Palestinians inside Israel in violation of international law, have increased the number of Gaza detainees banned from receiving family visits—a move that exacerbates Israel’s failures to uphold its duties as the occupying power—while at the same time attempting to deflect attention from the move by simultaneously announcing an expansion in visitation periods. Palestinian detainees and prisoners held by Israel endure a series of violations of prisoner and detainee rights, such as neglect of medical care, lengthy periods of solidarity confinement, searches that contain ill-treatment and abuse, and forms of physical and psychological torture from arrest, through interrogation, to detention and imprisonment.
Al Mezan continues to follow Palestinian prisoner and detainee affairs, recently documenting the increase in detainees banned from receiving family visits and simultaneous announcement that family visitation would increase to every two weeks. Hiding one action behind the other reflects Israel’s desire to skew public opinion of its treatment of Palestinian detainees. In practice, at the moment Israeli authorities allow only first-degree relatives to visit detainees every two months. The Israeli authority exempts brothers, sisters and sons who are over 16 years old, with negative psychological repercussions on the detainees and their families. Al Mezan considers the move a form of prohibited collective punishment.
Israeli restrictions imposed on Palestinian detainees amount to grave and systematic violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Human Rights Law (IHRL). Article 166 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that: “Every internee shall be allowed to receive visitors, especially near relatives, at regular intervals and as frequently as possible…”. Article 37 of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Detainees of 1955 states that: “Prisoners shall be allowed under necessary supervision to communicate with their family and reputable friends at regular intervals, both by correspondence and by receiving visits.”
Al Mezan strongly condemns Israel denial of Palestinian detainee rights, particularly their right to family visitation. Al Mezan calls on the international community to uphold its moral and legal obligations towards Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory by exerting pressure on Israel to end the continuing violations against civilians and to ensure respect of legal principles related to Palestinian detainees.