Israeli authorities continue to arbitrarily arrest and detain Palestinians of Gaza in violation of the right to liberty and security of person and fair trial guarantees. Recently, in three separate incidents, Israeli navy arrested six fishermen and confiscated two boats, and arrested one merchant at Erez crossing.
According to Al Mezan’s field investigations, at approximately 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, 6 December 2016, Israeli gunboats opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats in the Gaza sea west of Beit Lahiya, near the maritime borders in the North Gaza district. The Israeli forces arrested four fishermen and confiscated their boat. Al Mezan has identified the arrested fishermen as:
According to Al Mezan's field investigations, the fishermen were approximately 4,000 meters away from the northern illuminated buoys, which marks the area Israel designates as off-limit for them, at the time that the Israeli gunboats opened fire. Two military boats circled the fishing boat, and the four fishermen onboard were ordered to take off their clothes and swim to the Israeli vessel. All other fishermen in the area abandoned their work and sought safety on the shore, reflecting the danger surrounding Israeli forces’ constant attacks on the fishermen. The four fishermen were still in detention when this press release was issued at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, 6 December 2016.
In a separate incident, at approximately 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, 4 December 2016, Israeli gunboats opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats in the Gaza sea west of Bait Lahiya in the North Gaza district. The gunboats surrounded the Palestinian fishing boat and ordered two fishermen to take off their clothes and swim to the Israeli vessel. The Israeli navy subsequently arrested the fishermen and took them to an unknown destination, confiscating their boat. Al Mezan has identified the arrested fishermen as:
At approximately 10:00 a.m. on Monday, 5 December 2016, the Israeli authorities released Sa’adi Al Sultan, but kept his brother in custody.
At approximately 5:30 p.m. on the same day, Israeli authorities arrested Palestinian merchant Hisham Younis Hasan Abu Zayid, 52, at Erez crossing. According to the affidavit given to Al Mezan by his brother Nabil, on Thursday, 24 November 2016, after obtaining permits from the Israeli authorities, Hisham and Nabil travelled to the West Bank via Erez crossing; on their way back to Gaza, the Israeli authorities arrested Hisham. No reasons were given for his arrest.
Al Mezan strongly condemns Israel’s continued violation of the Palestinian fishing and business communities’ right to liberty and security of person cited within Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Israel is a Party. Authorizing permits to use Erez crossing and then arresting the permit holders essentially turns the crossing into a trap, where the travelers—generally Palestinian patients and also merchants—become extremely vulnerable to coercion, ill-treatment and torture, for Israel’s information-gathering purposes.
The arrests are carried out with blatant disregard for legal safeguards under international human rights law, particularly the right of a detainee to know the reason for his/her arrest, the right to legal representation, and to be brought promptly before a judge.
Al Mezan calls for the immediate release of detainees arrested arbitrarily and without due process. Al Mezan calls on the international community to uphold the moral and legal obligations of third states to intervene and take practical steps to lift the closure and blockade, which forms the basis for the detention practices. The international community must call on Israel to respect of the principles and obligations of international law.