Time: 11:00 Jerusalem
Al Mezan condemns the continued use of the crossing to entrap and arbitrarily detain civilians and calls on the international community to intervene
On Tuesday morning, the Israeli authorities arrested a patient’s companion at Erez crossing who had been called in for a security interview. Al Mezan’s field investigations indicate that on 26 November 2019, the Israeli authority arrested Mousa Abu Marzouq Abdel Karim Abu Taha, 47, a resident of as-Saudi neighborhood in Tal as-Sultan, western Rafah. Mousa had applied to accompany his brother, Younis, a patient who was granted an exit permit for a scheduled eye surgery in the West Bank a few days before, but the Israeli forces did not allow Mousa to accompany his brother at the time. Instead, he was called for a security interrogation at 9am on Tuesday morning as a prerequisite for obtaining an exit permit to accompany his brother. Upon arrival at Erez crossing, Mousa was immediately detained.
The Israeli forces and authorities have been using Erez crossing as a means of entrapment and coercion of Palestinians residing in Gaza, particularly of those in urgent need of exit permits for pressing humanitarian needs. These practices form part of Israel’s closure policy which has imposed severe restrictions on the freedom of movement of people and goods for the last twelve years and has been the main driver of the dire humanitarian situation seen today in the Gaza Strip. Al Mezan’s documentation shows that Israel has arrested 11 Palestinians at Erez crossing in 2019, including two companions of medical patients, eight merchants, and one person crossing for travel.
Al Mezan maintains that by imposing sweeping restrictive measures on the freedom of movement of Palestinian patients and their companions—which subsequently hinder their access to medical care— Israel is blatantly disregarding its obligations under international human rights law. Israel, with such measures, is also breaching the rules of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the treatment of protected persons in occupied territories, particularly the duties of the occupying power to ensure and maintain public health to the fullest extent of the means available to it.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights strongly condemns the arrest of Mousa Abu Taha. The Center also deplores Israel’s arbitrary detention policy and use of crossings under its control to coerce Palestinians and exploit their humanitarian needs, especially medical patients and their companions. Such actions have harmful physiological and psychological repercussions on travelers and threaten the lives of patients referred for treatment outside the Gaza Strip.
Al Mezan calls on the international community to ensure the respect of international law, and to exert pressure on the occupying power to lift the blockade and closure, ensure freedom of movement of goods and people, and guarantee the safety of patients and patient travel companions.