The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called on all relevant Israeli authorities to protect the rights of Palestinian prisoners, and to respect the relevant obligations of international humanitarian law.
The committee said in a statement: “Under international humanitarian law, Palestinian detainees are protected persons and have the right to communicate with their families.”
The ICRC comments came on the heels of hard-right Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir’s decision to reduce family visits for Palestinian prisoners to once every two months instead of once a month.
This decision coincides with another retaliatory decision announced by Ben-Gvir, which involves the cancellation of administrative release for sick and elderly prisoners whose sentences are nearing completion. Administrative release is often used by the Israel Prison Service to cope with overcrowding in prisons.
The Committee pointed out that it has been facilitating visits by families of Palestinian detainees to Israeli detention centers since 1968, saying, “In the first six months alone of the year 2023, more than 29,000 families of detainees were able to visit their families in prisons.”
The ICRC said family visitation was a much needed lifeline for both detainees and their family members, fulfilling a basic and universal human need.
The Committee confirmed that it stands ready to continue to support the families by facilitating these visits, and maintains, according to its mandate, an unannounced bilateral dialogue with the relevant authorities on issues of concern.