Israeli authorities have arrested a Palestinian merchant at Erez crossing on Thursday morning despite granting him a travel permit the day before. Al Mezan’s field investigation show that at approximately 8am on Thursday, 4 December 2019, Israeli authorities at Erez crossing arrested Musaad Sulaiman Salman Ruqaiba, a 43-year-old merchant from Rafah. His family told Al Mezan that they had been notified of his arrest through a phone call and informed that Musaad was being held at Ashkelon prison for ‘security reasons.’ Israeli authorities had granted Musaad a travel permit on 3 December, one day before arresting him. Following Musaad’s arrest, Al Mezan’s lawyer in Israel requested to visit him but was denied access on the grounds that Musaad is being held for interrogation and is barred from any visitation, including from meeting a legal counsel.
Recently, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of arrested Palestinian merchants at Erez crossing despite obtaining the required approval and travel permits. The Israeli authorities have been using Erez crossing as a means of entrapment and coercion of Palestinians residing in Gaza. These practices form part of Israel’s closure policy which has imposed severe restrictions on the freedom of movement of people and goods for the last twelve years and has been the main driver of the dire humanitarian situation seen today in the Gaza Strip. Al Mezan’s documentation shows that Israel has arrested 12 Palestinians at Erez crossing in 2019, including two companions of medical patients, nine merchants, and one person crossing for travel.
Al Mezan condemns Israel’s arbitrary detention policy and use of crossings to entrap and coerce Palestinians and exploit their humanitarian needs. Such actions constitute a serious and systematic breach of the rules of international law. Al Mezan reiterates its calls on the international community to ensure the respect of international law, and to exert pressure on the occupying power to lift the blockade and closure, ensure freedom of movement of goods and people, and put an end to arbitrary detention of Palestinians.