Israeli authorities canceled the weekly visits by Palestinian families from the Gaza Strip to their relatives detained in Israeli jails, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which coordinates the visits, said.
“The Israeli authorities notified us of the cancellation of family visits from Gaza to the Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails, which were scheduled for Monday, due to the closure of Erez crossing,” the ICRC office said in a brief statement, the Daily Star reported.
Visitation rights are often withdrawn whenever Israel wants to take punitive measures against Palestinian faction Hamas in Gaza, the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, or the Palestinian people in general.
On Sunday, Israel closed the Kerem Shalom, Gaza’s only functioning commercial crossing, and Erez Crossing, which is used for the movement of people between Gaza and the West Bank, citing an alleged rocket attack from the strip.
Over 7,000 Palestinians are currently in prisons throughout Israel, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs.
Blockaded by Israel – by air, land and sea – since 2007, the Gaza Strip has seven border crossings linking it to the outside world.
Six of these crossings are controlled by Israel, while the seventh – the Rafah crossing – is controlled by Egypt, which keeps it tightly sealed for the most part.
Israel sealed four of its commercial crossings with Gaza in June 2007 after Palestinian resistance movement Hamas wrested control of the strip from the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority.
As it currently stands, Israeli authorities allow the Kerem Shalom crossing – which links Gaza to both Israel and Egypt – to operate for commercial purposes.
The Gaza-Israel Erez crossing, meanwhile, is generally devoted to the movement of individuals between Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
A truce deal, brokered recently by Egypt, between Israel and Palestinian groups in Gaza calls for reopening the strip’s border crossings, which, if implemented, would effectively end the latter’s seven-year blockade of the territory. This term has not beeput into effect yet.
The Egyptian-brokered deal signed on Aug. 26 put an end to an Israeli onslaught that lasted for 51 days, during which 2,160 Gazans, mostly civilians, were killed – and 11,000 injured.
The Israeli attacks also left thousands of Palestinian homes and government facilities either in total or partial destruction.