Amidst Israel’s continued policy of closure and isolation of the Gaza Strip, The Israeli authorities pursue coercion at Erez Crossing in attempts to extract information from Palestinians who need to move in and out of the Gaza Strip through this crossing. In recent months, the Israeli authorities arrested several Palestinian patients, merchants and others who need passage.
According to Al Mezan’s monitoring and documentation, at approximately 8:30 am on Sunday, 8 November 2015, the Israeli security authorities arrested two Palestinian merchants at the Erez crossing. Al Mezan has identified them as follows:
The two men were arrested during interviews required by the Israeli security at Erez crossing. Such interviews are frequently required as part of the security check these authorities run when Palestinians apply for travel permits, including for merchants. The families of the two men received phone calls from the Israeli security informing them of the arrests.
At approximately 11:00 am on the same day, the Israeli authorities arrested Nisreen Hasan Hasan, 40, also at Erez crossing. Nisreen, who holds an Israeli ID and is married to Hazem Mohammed Abu Kmeil from Gaza city, had received a phone call from the Palestinian Liaison Office, which coordinates movement permits with the Israeli authorities on behalf of Gaza residents, informing her of the required interview. She arrived on time for the scheduled interview, whereupon she was arrested.
According to Al Mezan’s documentation, since the beginning of 2015 Israeli forces have arrested 33 Palestinians at Erez crossing. Of those arrested, 24 are merchants and three are patients. The Israeli authorities abuse the Gaza-Israel crossing to coerce Palestinians from Gaza in order to extract information about their families, communities and neighbors; the practice includes arrest and detention. The Israeli authorities attempt to hinge passage through Israel on collaboration with the authorities.
Palestinians crossing through Erez are largely merchants on business and patients trying to reach urgent medical care at hospitals in the West Bank and Israel. The Israeli policies constitutes a violation of the right to freedom of movement; the denial or delay of medical care amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment amounting to torture. The violations are part and parcel of Israel’s policy of closure and siege of the Gaza Strip, which amounts to a form of collective punishment, in violation of international law.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights strongly condemns these practices and calls for the international community to uphold its obligations under international law and oblige Israel to respect international legal principles 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.