Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemns the Israeli occupation forces’ escalation against Palestinian patients and their escorts travelling through Erez Crossing on their way to receive medical treatment at hospitals in the West Bank and inside Israel.
The Israeli occupation forces have effectively turned the border crossing into a trap detaining four individuals over the past month.
According to the monitoring and documentation unit at Al Mezan, on Tuesday morning, 23rd July 2013, at approximately 11:00 am, Israeli forces positioned at the Erez checkpoint detained medical patient Hussam El-Za’anin, 28, while he was on his way to receive medical treatment at Al-Makassed Charitable Hospital in East Jerusalem.
The medical patient, Al Mezan’s field investigations point out, was injured during the internal infighting between Hamas and Fatah in June 2007 and is a former militant at the Palestinian Security Preventive Security Force.
El-Za’anin suffers from failure due to a severed nerve in the right upper arm.
El-Za’anin’s parents told Al Mezan that ‘[their son ] Hussam arrived at the [Erez] crossing accompanied by his mother at around 10:30 am, on Tuesday morning.
Half an hour later, he was called for the [security] interview with Israeli intelligence, and at 12:00 pm, his mother was asked to leave and was told that her son will be sent back home too.
At approximately 4:30 pm on the same day, Hussam’s brother, Khalil, received a call from the Israeli Intelligence informing him that Hussam has been arrested and is held at Ashkelon prison.
’ Similarly, on Tuesday, 16th July 2013, at approximately 10:00 am, Israeli forces arrested Ibrahim Harbi Al-Feerany, 34, who is a resident of Rafah city, south of the Gaza Strip.
Al-Feerany was en route to visit his mother and two brothers who live in Al-Ram village in the West Bank when he was detained at Erez Crossing.
His wife was informed of her husband’s arrest by a phone call she received on Wednesday, 17th July 2013.
In the same context, another Gaza resident Mahmoud Abdul Qader Shamalakh, 42, was detained at Erez Crossing at around 10:00 am on Sunday morning, 14th July 2013.
Shamalakh was along with his patient wife Nima Abed Al-Fattah Shamalakh, 35, who was heading to Ramallah to receive medical treatment at Musallam Hospital.
After she had waited for three hours at the border crossing while her husband was being interrogated by Israeli officials, she decided to go back to her home in Gaza, having lost hope of her husband’s release.
Moreover, Mohammed Mohammed Abu Harbeed, 55, was arrested at approximately 12:00 pm on Thursday, 11th July 2013 at Erez Crossing.
Abu Harbeed was on his way back from Israel where his deceased brother who suffered from stomach cancer was receiving medical treatment at Ichilov Hospital inside Israel before he passed away.
Abu Harbeed accompanied his brother’s body on their way back to Gaza, but he was kept at the border crossing while his brother’s body arrived at the Gaza side of the border crossing by workers at the border at approximately 2:00 pm.
Abu Harbeed was released later on the same day at around 7:30 pm.
Erez Crossing is currently the only avenue left for Palestinian medical patients seeking medical treatment at hospitals outside of the Gaza Strip, particularly after the closure of the Rafah crossing and the severely restrictive measures newly imposed by Egyptian authorities on Palestinian passengers, which inhibit their ability to leave the Gaza Strip and use Egyptian crossing and airports generally.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights strongly condemns and is deeply concerned about the ongoing arrests of medical patients, their escorts in addition to internationals using this crossing.
Al Mezan views this as a continuation of Israel’s blackmail policy of Palestinian patients to exploit their suffering and need for treatment in order to turn them into collaborators.
This, Al Mezan stresses, constitutes a grave violation of the rules under International Humanitarian Law, namely the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Al Mezan calls on the international community to promptly and effectively intervene in any way in order to stop Israel’s ongoing and systematic violations and ensure safe access to hospitals and medical treatment for Palestinian patients and other residents in the Gaza Strip.