Amidst Israel’s continued policy of closure and isolation of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli authorities pursue arrest and coercion at Erez Crossing in attempts to extract information from Palestinians who need to move in and out of the Gaza Strip through the crossing that Israel controls. The closure/blockade policy, maintained by Israeli occupation forces (IOF) using live fire and other means particularly in the buffer zone, results in attacks against and arrest of Palestinians in Gaza. Recently, Israeli authorities arrested two Palestinians and prevented a journalist from travelling via Erez crossing. Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Al Mezan) strongly condemns Israel’s use of arbitrary detention and torture and ill-treatment of Palestinians. Israel’s closure/blockade of the Gaza Strip serves to facilitate such violations of the rights of Palestinians of Gaza, while encouraging numerous others, notably the violation of the right to freedom of movement.
According to Al Mezan’s monitoring, at approximately 5 pm on Monday, 22 February 2016, the IOF opened fire at Ez Al-Din Hekmat Al Basous, 26, when he approached the eastern separation fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel. As a result, Al Basous sustained shrapnel injuries in his legs. The IOF arrested him and took him to an Israeli military site. At approximately 11 pm on the same day, the IOF released him at Erez crossing. He was referred to Hospital in Jabaliya for medical treatment.
According to Al Mezan’s field investigations, Al Basous, who suffers from a psychological impairment, was subject to torture and abuse during his arrest and interrogation. He was severely beaten and a dog was set on him, biting him on different parts of his body, in the presence of Israeli soldiers. Al Basous is receiving intensive medical treatment, including for a form of poisoning.
In another incident, on Tuesday, 23 February 2016, Israeli authorities arrested Majd Jawad Owieda, 23, who is from Gaza City. Owieda is the director of the Palestinian Talent Club. In his affidavit to Al Mezan, Majd’s father stated that his son, along with six members of the Talent Club, went to Erez crossing to travel using permits issued by the Israeli authorities. After waiting for several hours, the Israeli authorities arrested Oweida. At approximately 11 pm on the same day, Oweida’s father received a phone call from the Israeli security agency informing him that his son was being detained.
The Israeli authorities prevented Fadi Al Sheikh Yousif and Heba Al Hindi, members of the Talent Club, from passing through Erez crossing and confiscated a laptop and cellular phone from them.
According to Al Mezan’s lawyer, Oweida is being detained at Ashkilon prison and has been prevented from meeting his lawyers for four days. Al Mezan expresses our concern that Oweida is being, or will be, subjected to torture, which usually occurs during the period of preventing detainees lawyers visits.
At approximately 8 am on Monday, 22 February 2016, Israeli authorities prevented journalist Mohammed Khalil Abu Fayyad, 42, from passing Erez crossing. He had received a permit from the Israeli security authorities to travel via Erez crossing. He was detained until about 3 pm the same day. He was interrogated for about one hour. After interrogation, he was ordered to wait and the Israeli services in Erez confiscated his permit. Fayyad works as a journalist at the Palestinian News Information Agency (WAFA) and he lives in Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip.
Al Mezan strongly condemns Israel’s continuing practice of arbitrary arrests and torture and ill-treatment of individuals in the Gaza Strip. Al Mezan asserts that the Israeli practices and policies are considered grave violations of international humanitarian law (IHL). Torture in particular, as a peremptory norm, is a prohibited act under any circumstances. Al Mezan asserts that the Israeli practices show a complete disregard for legal obligations under international law.
Al Mezan emphasizes that the silence of the international community encourages Israel to continue the perpetration of such violations. Al Mezan reiterates its previous call on the international community to promptly intervene to ensure the protection of civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory.