The Israeli government continues to impose a strict, illegal closure/blockade on the Gaza Strip, the base of which is a blanket movement restriction on the population in Gaza. The Israeli authorities continue to manipulate said restrictions to exploit Palestinians from Gaza attempting to travel via Israel’s Erez border crossing. Al Mezan has documented the recent rise in arrests of businesspeople who were granted the required permission to travel by the Israeli authorities via Erez. In the most recent case, a merchant was arrested on his way back from Israel to Gaza at Erez crossing.
According to Al Mezan’s monitoring and documentation, at approximately 16:30 on Monday, 19 September 2016, the Israeli authorities at Erez crossing arrested Alaa Hassan Rajab Hamadah, a 45-year-old Palestinian merchant, while he was on his way back to Gaza after doing business in Israel. According to his brother, Ali, Alaa had traveled at 8 AM to Israel and while travelling back via Erez crossing in the evening on the same day, Alaa was arrested. Ali called his brother and was told about the arrest, before losing contact.
Al Mezan reiterates our condemnation of the arbitrary arrest and detention and remains deeply concerned by the targeting of the Palestinian commercial sector. According to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Gaza, since the beginning of 2015 more than 100 businesspeople have been arrested, while permits were withdrawn from 1,660 (constituting 40% of all merchants in Gaza). In addition, 200 local corporations were banned from international dealing. Meanwhile, Israel maintains a strict prohibition on entry of raw materials and necessary goods for the industrial and commercial sector in Gaza.
Such measures aim at hindering Gaza’s financial and commercial sector, which has been seriously deteriorating over the last ten years – i.e. since Israel imposed the closure/blockade. The closure has heavily impacted the entire population in Gaza leading to a surge in unemployment and poverty.
Al Mezan stresses that the Israeli authorities and forces must respect the principles and standards of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and where such standards are not met, Al Mezan calls on the international community to intervene to ensure protection of civilians. The illegal closure of the Gaza Strip, which amounts to a prohibited collective punishment under international law and violates the basic right to freedom of movement, must be lifted.