The Ministry of Interior and National Security in the Gaza Strip has recently taken a number of exceptional measures, which included imposing restrictions on travelling via Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing and banning fishermen from sailing and fishing in the Gaza Sea. Those measures came in the context of ongoing investigations into the assassination crime of Hamas leader and former prisoner, Mazen Faqha, on Friday, 24 March 2017.
On Sunday, 26 March 2017, the Ministry of Interior issued a decision to close Beit Hanoun crossing and Gaza Sea until a further notice. On Monday, 27 March 2017, the Ministry decided to re-open partially the crossing, but set criteria before those allowed traveling via Beit Hanoun crossing. Therefore, the Ministry announced that only families of prisoners, patients and women of all ages are allowed to travel from the Gaza Strip while men between 15 and 45 are not allowed. Moreover, the restrictions on fishing are so far imposed as the Gaza Sea is still closed to Gaza fishermen.
It is worth mentioning that the above-mentioned measures came in light of the ongoing Israeli restrictions, which deprive Palestinians in the Gaza Strip of their right to freedom of movement. These restrictions have violated a wide range of human rights, including the right to health as life of many patients has been put in danger or their health conditions have deteriorated due to delays in treatment. Moreover, these measures have disastrous effects on the right to work, right to education and right to family reunification etc.
Human Right Organizations pointed out that the number of patients, who obtained permits from the Israeli authorities but were prevented from traveling through Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing due to the exceptional closure by the Ministry of Interior, reached 71 on the first day of closure, 3 patients on the second day of closure and 3 patients on the third day. On Wednesday, 29 March 2017, 4 patients were prevented from travelling; two of whom were supposed to be transferred by ambulances although they had a security ban from Israel.
The Palestinian NGO's Network (PNGO) and Human Rights Organizations believe that the assassination crime of Faqha is a serious incident and express their grave concern over the continued restrictions imposed on freedom of movement via Beit Hanoun crossing (Erez) and on Gaza Sea. Both stress that the imposed restrictions violate a wide range of fundamental rights protected by the Palestinian laws, particularly the Palestinian Basic Law. These restrictions also violate many human rights as the right to health care; which, within the principle of complementarity, affects the right to life, right to work, right to freedom of movement and etc.
PNGO and human rights organizations call for ending these restrictive measures, which violate human rights, and allowing the freedom of movement for Palestinians and foreigners working in the Gaza Strip in addition to allowing fishermen to resume fishing. Both demand that the security measures should be consistent with the human rights standards and provisions of law. The signatories understand the delicate situation, which followed the assassination crime, and stress that the security motives should not be at the expense of human rights.