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Israel bans prison visits by Palestinian families following 'heroic' jailbreak

This file photo shows inside an Israeli prison.

Israeli authorities have banned family visits for Palestinian prisoners, three days after six prisoners managed to escape from a highly fortified prison in the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) banned Palestinian families from visiting their loved ones in jail until the end of this month, the Palestine Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement Thursday, citing the International Committee of the Red Cross. 

Israel said the decision was made amid simmering tensions in prisons and due to the recent situation resulting from the breakout which has been described by the regime's extremist prime minister Naftali Bennett as a "grave incident".

In the incident, a former commander of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade in Jenin, and five members of the Islamic Jihad group tunneled their way out through their cell’s drainage system to escape from the maximum-security Gilboa prison in the predawn hours of Monday.

It was the biggest Palestinian escape from an Israeli jail since 1987 when six members of the Islamic Jihad broke out of a heavily-guarded jail in Gaza.

Since the prison break, Israeli special military units have launched a brutal crackdown on Palestinian prisoners, particularly those behind bars in Negev, Ofer, Gilboa, and Ramon.

Prisoners set cells afire  

The punitive measures against thousands of Palestinian prisoners included attempts to disperse around 400 prisoners affiliated with the Islamic Jihad and relocate them to other prisons.

The brutal crackdown prompted Palestinian inmates, especially in the prisons of Negev and Ramon, to set fire to several cells.

Earlier, the Palestinian Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Commission warned against sliding the already-tense situation into an “open confrontation”.

The Palestinian Captive Movement in Israeli jails announced a rebellion against the IPS and its laws if its current repressive and punitive measures against Palestinian inmates continued, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

Many demonstrations were held across Palestinian cities to support the prisoners. 

Palestinian prisoners have been subjected to systematic torture, harassment, and repression all through the years of Israel’s occupation of their territories.

The IPS keeps Palestinian prisoners in deplorable conditions. More than 7,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently held in some 17 Israeli jails, with dozens of them serving multiple life sentences.

Israeli forces have arrested more than 17,000 minors since 2000. Following the recent jailbreak, hailed by Palestinians as a "heroic' act, the regime has launched a massive manhunt to locate the escapees.

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