22 March 2023 |Reference 20/2023
At approximately 1:30 pm on Tuesday, 21 March 2023, Israeli authorities at Erez crossing arrested Palestinian patient Ahmed Abu Awwad, a 55-year-old resident of the Tal Al-Hawa neighborhood in Gaza City, on his way back to the Gaza Strip. Abu Awwad has bone cancer. On March 15, 2023, he left the Gaza Strip to travel to Jerusalem in critical conditions.
His wife, who was accompanying him, testified that they were returning to Gaza from the Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem by ambulance. When they arrived at Erez, Israeli forces ordered the ambulance driver to take the patient to the waiting room at the crossing, and from there they took him to an unknown destination.
Al Mezan unequivocally condemns Abu Awwad’s arrest, which could worsen his health condition and endanger his life. As he remains in Israeli custody, Israeli authorities are fully responsible for his life, safety and well-being.
Al Mezan also reiterates its strongest condemnation of the systematic arbitrary arrests carried out by the Israeli authorities against Palestinians attempting to cross Erez—particularly against patients and their companions seeking to leave Gaza for the purpose of receiving medical treatment in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Israel, or abroad. By doing so, the Israeli authorities deviate from the fundamental rules and obligations pertaining to an occupying power under international humanitarian and human rights law. Moreover, the physical and psychological pain that patients and their companions endure in trying to access healthcare is a form of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.
Accordingly, Al Mezan calls for the immediate release of Abu Awwad. We also urge the international community to ensure the respect of international law and to exert pressure on Israel, the occupying power, to ensure freedom of movement of goods and people, uphold Palestinian patients’ right to healthcare, and guarantee the safety of their companions.
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