Israeli occupation forces (IOF) continue their systematic violations against residents of the Gaza Strip, without any regards to the deteriorating humanitarian conditions resulting from the Israeli-imposed blockade over the Strip for over eight years. The IOF continue to deny Palestinians the right to freedom of movement, and carry out arbitrary arrests against Palestinians traveling through Erez for humanitarian reasons, particularly those seeking medical treatment in the West Bank and Israel. In this context, the IOF has recently arrested a Palestinian patient traveling via Erez crossing, raising the number of people arrested at Erez to 7, including 2 patients and 1 companion since the beginning of 2016. In 2015, the IOF arrested 44 Palestinians including 4 patients and 30 traders, all travelling via Erez crossing.
According to Al Mezan’s monitoring and documentation, the IOF soldiers at Erez arrested Hani Fathi Shourab Isleem, 40, resident of Al-Sabra neighborhood, south of Gaza City. His brother told Al Mezan that at approximately 8:00 AM on Thursday, 24 March 2016, Hani headed to Erez crossing in order to undergo a joint replacement in his right leg at the Al-Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem. Later at 17:00, Hani’s brother received a phone call from a person claiming to be an Israeli intelligence officer and informed him that Hani has been arrested. This arrest leaves no room for doubt that the IOF is committing systematic violations and is using Erez crossing as a trap to detain or extort Palestinians.
Al Mezan expresses its grave condemnation against IOF’s arbitrary arrests and repeated denial of patients’ requests to travel via Erez to receive treatment in hospitals in West Bank and Israel. Al Mezan considers these practices, such as denial of adequate medical care, a serious threat to lives of Palestinian patients from the Gaza Strip. Al Mezan affirms that IOF’s practices constitute grave and systematic violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL), especially the continued blockade of the Strip throughout the last eight years.
Accordingly, Al Mezan calls on the international community to fulfill its obligations under the international law by putting pressure on Israel to respect IHL and IHRL, lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip and grant freedom of movement of people and goods from/to the Gaza Strip. In addition, Al Mezan calls on the international community to investigate claims of violations of international law and hold those responsible accountable, particularly in cases pertaining to arbitrary arrests, extortion, torture and ill-treatment.