Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemns the detention of the Minister of Public Works and Housing, Mohammed Ziara, 63, and his wife by members of the Internal Security Apparatus of the Ministry of Interior in Gaza. The minister and his wife were detained after going through Erez crossing on their way back to the Gaza Strip from the West Bank.
Al Mezan’s field investigations show that members of the Internal Security Apparatus stopped a white vehicle carrying the minister and his wife, Amal Abdel-Karim Tawfiq Ziara,47, at around 14:15, on Monday, 25 November 2019. They were passing through Erez crossing in northern Gaza Strip after returning from the West Bank and were heading to their home in Tal Alhawa neighborhood, west of Gaza City.
The Minister of Public Works told Al Mezan:
“One of the security personnel told me to stop the car. After complying, I asked him who he worked for and he informed me that he worked for the Internal Security Apparatus. He went on to ask for my wife’s cellphone, but I refused to hand it over… Then, a number of security agents gathered; I told them that I had diplomatic immunity and refused to talk to them except within the established legal framework. Afterwards, one agent opened the car door, grabbed my wife by the hand, and forcefully pulled her out of the car. My wife returned to the car, and we waited in it for almost two hours. We were allowed to leave at around 16:45 of the same day.”
Few days before the incident at Erez crossing, the Internal Security Apparatus of the Ministry of Interior in Gaza raided the minister’s office —located near Al-Saraya crossroads in Gaza City— at around 10:30am on Thursday, 21 November 2019. They recorded personal information of employees present at the office and inspected the surveillance cameras installed inside and outside the premise before leaving.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights deeply regrets the politically-driven breaches of human rights and of due process regardless of their justifications. Al Mezan denounces the detention of Minister Mohammad Ziara and asserts that ministers enjoy immunity as implied under the second paragraph of article 75 of the Palestinian Basic Law, which grants the power to refer any minister for investigation exclusively to the Prime Minister.
Al Mezan calls on duty bearers in the Gaza Strip to investigate the incident, prevent occurrence of similar incidents, and put an end to arbitrary detention. The Center reiterates its calls for ending the Palestinian political division, which has been the cause and main driver of a wide range of human rights violations. Al Mezan also stresses the necessity to maintain and strengthen the positive atmosphere that accompanied the recent consensus on holding legislative elections, and to further build upon this positive progress in order to restore the unity of the Palestinian political system and the values of democracy and rule of law.