Israeli authorities continue to extort Palestinian patients from Gaza who are in need of medical treatment in the West Bank and Israel, arresting them, and hindering their access to appropriate health care. Such delays and denial of medical care results in the deterioration of patients’ health and causes unnecessary suffering and agony. With the latest arrest, the number of Palestinian patients arrested at Erez crossing since the beginning of 2016 rises to four patients and one person accompanying the patient.
According to Al Mezan’s field investigations, at 9 AM on Monday, 18 April 2016, Israeli authorities at Erez crossing arrested Mahmoud Said Al Abed Abu Fool, 19, resident of Jabalia refugee camp in North Gaza, after he had been summoned by the Israeli security agency for an interview within the permit application process. Abu Fool had submitted a permit application in order to continue his medical treatment at Al Najah Hospital in Nablus in the West Bank.
Field investigations indicate that Mahmoud had been hit by a live bullet at a protest on 9 October 2015, east of Al Shejayia neighborhood, east of Gaza City, which resulted in a tear to the artery in his left leg. On 15 October 2015, he was transferred to Al Najah Hospital in the West Bank, where he underwent a transplant surgery to replace the torn part of the artery, and to implant a platinum plate in his bone to stabilize his broken leg.
His father told Al Mezan that his son had applied for a travel permit to the Palestinian General Authority of Civil Affairs in order to continue his treatment in Al Najah Hospital. During the process of coordinating the facilitation of the transport with the Israeli authorities, he was summoned to meet Israeli security at Erez crossing on 18 April 2016 at 8:30 AM. Later that day, at 10 PM, his father was contacted by the Palestinian General Authority of Civil Affairs and informed of his son’s arrest.
Al Mezan strongly condemns the arrest of Mahmoud Abu Fool and views it as yet further proof of Israeli extortion policies against Palestinian patients, under which Erez crossing is being used as a trap to arrest patients, with no consideration of their health condition. During interrogation, arrest and detention documented at Erez crossing, Palestinian patients are made extremely vulnerable to practices of torture and ill-treatment by the Israeli authorities. Al Mezan also asserts that the delay and denial of medical care amounts to torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
Al Mezan demands the immediate cessation of the arrest and extortion practices of Palestinian patients travelling via Erez crossing. These practices and policies are used for putting pressure on patients to provide security-related intelligence, which they may not have, in exchange for travel permits. Al Mezan calls for the lifting of all barriers that prevent Palestinian patients in the Gaza Strip from seeking necessary medical care in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Further, Al Mezan calls for Israel, the occupying power, to uphold its legal obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 to allow humanitarian aid, including medical equipment and supplies, to enter the occupied Gaza Strip. The nearly ten-year Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip facilitates the illegal blockade and collective punishment of the Palestinian people, and as such must be promptly lifted.
Al Mezan reiterates its calls on the international community, inter alia, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, the Committee against Torture, and the European Union, to put pressure on Israel to promptly cease violations that amount to the commission of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, denial of medical care, and denial of humanitarian aid.
Al Mezan calls on the international community to promptly and effectively intervene to release the detained patients.