Israeli occupation forces authorities continue to systematically violate international legal provisions of Gaza residents, including the prohibition on the use of coercion and the human right not to be arbitrarily detained. The practices are carried out within the context of a deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip that is a result of the nine-year Israeli-imposed blockade and closure. Egyptian authorities have imposed a near-complete closure of Rafah crossing, leaving Erez crossing as the only outlet for Gaza residents, including seriously ill patients. As the occupying power, Israel remains a duty bearer in the Gaza Strip.
By imposing an onerous and complex permit system on all travelers who fulfil the Israeli government’s very narrow “humanitarian criteria” and denying travel of the rest of Gaza’s residents, the Israeli occupation authorities are violating the population’s right to freedom of movement. In denying and delaying patients access to hospitals for appropriate medical care, the authorities are violating the patients’ right to health, and the prohibition on cruel and inhuman treatment which could amount to torture.
Further, Israel’s arbitrary arrest and detention policy of Palestinians who have received permits to cross Erez violates their human rights and leaves them extremely vulnerable to coercion, abuse, and torture. The practice is implemented after the Gaza resident has received a permit, enters Erez crossing as instructed, and then proceeds to be detained and interrogated. In this context, the Israeli authorities recently arrested a father who was accompanying his daughter to hospital and a businessman who was called for a security interview.
According to the monitoring conducted by Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Al Mezan), at approximately 10:00 am on Wednesday, 10 August 2016, Israeli authorities arrested Khalid Mustafa Al Lidawi, 44, at Erez crossing. Al Lidaw, resident of Rafah city, was accompanying his daughter to hospital. In her affidavit to Al Mezan, his wife stated that Al Lidaw was accompanying their daughter Raghad, 10, who has been unable to walk after having taken a fall. Raghad receives medical treatment at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, West Bank. Her father had accompanied her several times previously after having obtained permits to travel via Erez crossing.
At approximately 9:00 am on the same day, the Israeli authorities arrested Abdel Rahman Nabil Saqallah, 42, at Erez crossing. Saqallah is a merchant of sport equipment and lives in Gaza City. According to Al Mezan’s field investigations, two months ago, the Israeli authorities seized his goods in Ashkelon. Saqallah applied three times to obtain a permit to pass Erez crossing and to meet the concerned authorities in Israel to address the seizure of his goods. The Israeli security agents summoned him to Erez crossing for an interview. When he arrived there he was detained. Saqallah was subsequently transferred to a detention center.
Al Mezan reiterates its strong condemnation of the arrest of patients and their companions at Erez crossing, and denial of appropriate medical care to patients in Gaza, as a violation of the right to health and right not to be arbitrarily detained.
Al Mezan calls on the international community to intervene to ensure the respect of international law, to bring a halt to the violations, and to enable Gaza patients to reach hospitals and receive medical treatment. Al Mezan calls on the international community to intervene to lift the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.