The Israeli authorities have shown a clear disregard for their obligations towards more than 5000 disabled Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, by preventing them from receiving financial benefits paid by the National Insurance Institute of Israel.
This decision comes in a context of escalating violations by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, in dealing with the population of the Gaza Strip.
These crimes amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
This decision has been taken as the blockade, which has been imposed on the Gaza Strip by the IOF for more than two years, continues.
Instead of alleviating the suffering inflicted on Palestinians, particularly after the recent IOF military operation against the Gaza Strip, Israel continues to impose strict procedures which have even affected those benefiting from insurance.
According to information available to Al-Mezan, the Israeli authorities decided in January 2009, to stop the transfer of financial payments from the Israeli National Insurance Institute to more than 5000 disabled Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Al-Mezan Center, in cooperation with Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, examined this case and discovered that the transfer of insurance allowances has been halted because the Bank of Israel has suspended all of its transactions with all of the banks in the Gaza Strip, including the Bank of Palestine.
In light of this, Al-Mezan and Adalah have delivered letters to the Director of the Bank of Israel, the Director of the National Insurance Institute of Israel, and the Israeli Minister of Finance, demanding the immediate transfer of financial payments owed to disabled Palestinians.
The majority of the aforementioned disabled Palestinians used to work in Israel, where they received their injuries.
These workers were obliged to pay insurance and taxes from the start of their work until the date of their injury.
After they were injured, they submitted requests to the insurance institute to receive their disability allowances in accordance with the Israeli National Insurance Law.
Each request was assessed by a medical committee which approved the nature and the size of the disability and confirmed that it was as a result of a work injury.
In some cases, the disability was 100%.
Some of these disabled people have been receiving their insurance allowances since 1978.
Al-Mezan condemns this decision by the Israeli authorities to deprive disabled Palestinians of their insurance allowances, and views this practice as a form of racial discrimination, as their Israeli counterparts continue to receive their insurance allowances.
The Center highlights that this practice comes in the context of the continued escalation of the IOF's policy of collective punishment against the residents of the Gaza Strip, depriving them of their most basic needs, including food, medicine and fuel, thus leading to further deterioration of the humanitarian situation.
Al-Mezan calls on the international community to urgently intervene to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip and put an end to the IOF's grave violations of human rights in Gaza.
It also demands that the Israeli authorities cancel this decision, and emphasizes that it will continue to work on this case.