The Israeli authorities continue to arrest and coerce Palestinian patients at Erez Crossing. People requiring medical treatment outside Gaza and their companions are routinely delayed, coerced or arrested as they try to access hospitals. This Israeli policy at Erez crossing also effects businessmen, and other Palestinians needing to exit the blockaded Gaza Strip. According to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Al Mezan), in 2015 the Israeli forces arrested 44 people at Erez crossing, including four patients and 30 businessmen.
According to Al Mezan’s monitoring, at approximately 2:00 pm on Tuesday, 6 January 2016, the Israeli authorities arrested Maher Abdel Fattah Mushtaha, 53, at Erez crossing. Mustaha was accompanying his wife, Hekmat Baker Mushtaha, 52, who is ill and was on her way to Al Makased Hospital in Jerusalem where she was scheduled for joint transplantation for her left leg. The couple had received permits from the Israeli security authorities to travel via Erez crossing. The Israeli security forces interrogated Maher for five hours and then detained him and prevented his wife from passing through the crossing.
Al Mezan strongly condemns Israel’s arbitrary arrests and delay or denial of patient applications to seek medical treatment in the West Bank or Israel. These practices endanger the lives of travelers who are vulnerable to torture and ill-treatment as well as denial of medical care while at Erez crossing. The Israeli policies of closure and restrictions of the Gaza Strip's civilian population constitute a form of collective punishment in violation of the right to freedom of movement, and the denial or delay of medical care amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and torture, which represent serious violations of international law.
Al Mezan calls for the international community to uphold its obligations and oblige Israel to respect its own international obligations including the complete prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The closure of Gaza, as a mechanism that violates both human rights law and international humanitarian law, must be lifted without delay. Accountability for violations of international law and access to justice for victims is paramount to breaking the cycle of violations.