Sick Palestinian prisoner sees family one time in 15 years

RAMALLAH, February 20, 2017 (WAFA) – A sick Palestinian detainee sentenced for over nine lifetimes in Israeli jail was only allowed one family visit since his arrest in 2002, Monday said the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS).

PPS said that the family of Jamal Abu al-Haija, 57, from Jenin refugee camp, was only permitted to visit him once back in 2002. He was sentenced to 20 years and nine lifetimes in prison.

Abu al-Haija spent eight years and a half in solitary confinement.

The detainee suffers from various health problems as a result of old gunshot wounds inflicted by Israeli soldiers and led to the amputation of his left hand.

Abu al-Haija is a father of five children, most of whom spent time in Israeli jails, along with his wife who was held under administrative detention back in 2002.

According to Addameer, all Palestinian families from the occupied territory who wish to visit a family member detained in Israel – prisons are located inside Israel, in direct contravention of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention – must receive an entry permit into Israel. However, hundreds of families fail to receive permits at all, based on undisclosed security grounds.

Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention forbids the transfer of detainees outside the occupied Palestinian Territory.

“The application process for entry permits is lengthy and can take between one and three months, while the permit itself is valid for only one year. The application is submitted via the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and then transferred to the Israeli authorities,” stated the center.

The center maintained that, “For every prisoner, only three adults and two minors are allowed to visit at the same time. Frequently, the suspension of these family visits to a given prison or detention facility is used as a form of collecting punishment.”

According to the center, frequently, families of prisoners and detainees report being turned away from a Green Line checkpoint despite holding a valid permit authorizing them to enter Israel on a prison visit.

In addition, prisoners are often transferred to different detention facilities just before a scheduled family visit. Such transfers are rarely communicated beforehand to the families, who then make the long journey only to find out that their visit had been cancelled.