In the context of Israel’s continued violation of patient rights, which are rooted in Israel’s Gaza closure policy, the Israeli authorities have arrested a Palestinian patient at Erez crossing. With total control over Gaza’s border crossings with Israel, the Israeli authorities use Erez crossing to regulate movement in and out of Gaza, with individuals—particularly patients—often detained, and sometimes ill-treated and coerced by Israeli security agents in exchange for crossing permits. The tight restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities on movement make Palestinian patients one of the most vulnerable groups in Gaza as patients rely on exit from Gaza for lifesaving medical care.
In the latest incident, Fadel Mazin Abu Hasira, 27, was issued a crossing permit, which prompted him and his travel companion to go to Erez crossing, where he was arrested and his permit was withdrawn. According to Fadel’s father, Fadel suffers from critical inflammation in his right leg. His doctors’ diagnosis concluded that his arteries were closed, which necessitated his urgent referral for treatment only available outside of Gaza. Abu Hasira submitted the documents to obtain a permit from the Israeli authorities via the Palestinian General Authority for Civil Affairs twice. The permit would grant him access to the Makassed Hospital (Augusta Victoria) in Jerusalem; however, both applications were rejected for “security reasons”.
At the end of August 2017, he submitted a third application for a permit to exit Gaza for medical treatment. On Thursday, 7 September 2017, he was informed by text message, that he and his accompanying relative, in this case his mother, would be allowed to travel to Makassed Hospital via Erez crossing on 10 September 2017. At 8:00 am on the day in question, Fadel and his mother went to the crossing. After around four hours of waiting, an Israeli intelligence officer took Fadel for an interview. Shortly after, Fadel’s mother was told that their permit request had been rejected, that her son was under arrest for “security reasons”, and that she should return to Gaza immediately.
Al Mezan’s monitoring shows that since the beginning of 2017, 15 patients—including three children—have died as a consequence of similar Israeli practices. In the same period, two patients and three persons accompanying patients were arrested by Israeli authorities while exiting Gaza on valid permits.
Al Mezan strongly denounces Israel’s systematic violation of the rights of Palestinian civilians in the oPt, especially the arbitrary arrest of Palestinian patients who need treatment outside of Gaza, and notably those who have been granted permits to exit.
Al Mezan further stresses that denying access to adequate healthcare violates international humanitarian law and human rights standards—especially Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which guarantee standards of living and free movement that would ensure access to medical care. Israeli practices are also in violation of the right to live free from all types of torture and ill-treatment.
Palestinian patients in Gaza are losing their lives and enduring ill-treatment due to movement and access restrictions that deny crucial care that is merely an hour’s drive away. Al Mezan calls on the international community to ensure that international humanitarian and human rights laws are respected and that the Israeli restrictions on the rights of patients, which amount to torture and ill-treatment, are addressed.