Palestinian woman leaving Gaza to visit relative 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel allowed 40 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to visit relatives held in Israeli jails on Monday, the first such visits in five years, implementing a deal reached in May that ended a prisoners' hunger strike, families and officials said.
"Forty people - families of 24 prisoners - arrived a short while ago at the Ramon prison," a Prisons Service spokeswoman said, adding that visits from prisoners' relatives in Gaza would now be held on a weekly basis.
Israel banned family visits to prisoners from Gaza in 2007, a few months after Palestinians abducted IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, holding him captive until he was exchanged for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in an Egyptian-mediated deal in 2011.
Monday's visits were part of a new agreement reached earlier this year to end a month-long hunger strike by some 1,600 Palestinian prisoners demanding better detention conditions.
The hunger strikers' demands included the resumption of family visits and the ending of Israel's policy of detaining some terrorism suspects without trial - which applies to about 320 of the 4,800 Palestinians in Israeli jails.
The prisoners ended their fast in May after Egypt mediated a deal by which Israel gave in to some demands but did not promise to end its "administrative detention" without trial, citing security concerns and the need to protect secret informants.