The mother of Avraham Mengistu, 28, weeps during a family press conference, at the costal city of Ashkelon, Israel, Thursday, July 9, 2015. An Israeli security official said Thursday the Hamas militant group has been holding Mengistu in the Gaza Strip for nearly a year. The Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, said Mengistu, born in 1986 from the Israeli city of Ashkelon, independently crossed the border fence into the Gaza Strip in September last year, nearly two weeks after the end of the Israel-Gaza war. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov) (Tsafrir Abayov/AP)

Gershon Baskin questions the International Committee of the Red Cross “Family Visits Program”

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Gershon Baskin questions the International Committee of the Red Cross “Family Visits Program” that allowed nearly 80 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to visit family members in Israel’s Ramon prison, without connecting those visits with Hamas’s adherence to international law.

Avraham Mengistu

Avraham Mengistu

Someone please explain to me why these visits are not made conditional on Hamas providing information about the two Israeli citizens they are holding – Avraham Mengistu and the Bedouin citizen from al Hura?

Hamas refuses to acknowledge that they are being held by Hamas in Gaza, Hamas refuses to provide any information about their welfare, Hamas has refused to deliver letters to them from their family.

Why can’t the prevention of family visitors to prisoners from Gaza be used as a mean of applying pressure on Hamas to adhere to the minimum of international law?

Here is the report from Maan News agency.

Nearly 80 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip on Monday crossed into Israel to visit family members in Israel’s Ramon prison, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

An ICRC spokesperson said that 77 Palestinians, including 19 children, left Gaza through the Erez crossing near Beit Hanoun to visit 47 Palestinian prisoners.

The ICRC “Family Visits Program” for Gazans was suspended by Israeli authorities in June 2007 when Hamas won Palestinian elections. All communication between Gazan prisoners and the outside world was effectively cut off, according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer.

During a Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike in April 2012, one of the prisoners’ key demands was that the program be reinstated.

Israel agreed to resume the visits on the conclusion of the hunger strike, although Addameer has reported that many Gaza prisoners in Israel have not been allowed to receive visitors.

Around 350 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are currently jailed in Israel.