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Israel and the occupied/autonomous territories: ICRC distributes clothes to detainees

26-07-2002 News Release 02/30

The ICRC began distributing clothing this week to Palestinians held in Israeli places of detention. Sets of clothes, including trousers, T-shirts, underwear and socks, and also towels will be given to approximately 4,500 of the more than 7,000 detainees registered and visited by the ICRC.

The ICRC has taken this step in response to recurrent and prolonged suspensions of its family-visit programme, which facilitates visits for persons living in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights to relatives detained by the Israeli authorities inside Israel. The programme's objective is to enable the detainees to receive visits from near relatives, as they are entitled to do under the Fourth Geneva Convention. When visits do take place, families commonly bring personal items such as clothes and food to their detained relatives.

Since September 2000, this programme has been severely disrupted by additional security measures and restrictions on movement imposed on the occupied and autonomous territories. As a result, the detainees have had very limited contact with the outside world and few opportunities to obtain new clothing.

Ongoing discussions with the Israeli authorities on the resumption of the visits have been promising. In parallel with these talks, the ICRC will continue to distribute clothing until mid-August in all facilities of the Israeli prison service and the three main military detention camps.