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Israeli Court Sentences Gazan Patient to Five Years after Detention at Erez: Al Mezan Condemns the Ruling and Calls for an End to the Coercion of Patients

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7 July 2011 |Reference 57/2011

On Tuesday 5 July 2011, an Israeli court at Beer Sheva sentenced patient A’ed Rafeeq Ziyada, 27, to five years in prison.
The arrest is one of several arrests of Palestinian patients who are forced to travel via Erez crossing to access medical treatment outside Gaza.
The ruling is further indicator that Israel’s judicial system condones violations of human rights.
It also shows that the Israeli authorities use the crossings as traps, exploiting the Palestinian need to travel in order to receive life-saving treatment.
The Israeli authorities have arrested or coerced patients even when they had the necessary permits from Israel to pass through the Erez crossing.
  According to field investigations conducted by the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Ziyada applied at the Health Coordination Office, located in the Ministry of Civil Affairs in Gaza, to obtain permission to travel to Jordan for medical treatment at King Hussein Medical Center.
On Saturday 24 April 2010, Ziyada received a phone call from an employee at the Coordination Office in Gaza informing him that the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) wanted to interview him the following day as part of the procedure to process his application for a permit to cross Erez Crossing.
At approximately 9:30 am on Sunday 25 April 2010, Ziyada arrived at the crossing for the interview, but he did not return home.
At approximately 8:00 pm on the same day, Ziyada’s father received a phone call telling him that his son A’ed was detained at Ashkelon prison in the south of Israel.
  According to information obtained by Al Mezan, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have escalated their policy of coercion against dozens of patients.
The IOF coerce patients to provide information about their family, friends and/or neighbors.
IOD also prevent them from travelling or do not reply to their applications.
According to the Health Coordination Office, between 1 May 2009 and 30 April 2011, the Israeli authorities rejected 856 patient applications for permits to cross Erez.
1,902 other requests for permits were delayed.
553 were interviewed and interrogated by the ISA at Erez crossing.
  Since the beginning of 2011, Al Mezan has documented another three cases of patients who were arrested at Erez crossing.
On 23 April 2011, the IOF arrested Ayoub Ameen Attallah.
On 18 May 2011, the IOF arrested Waleed Abu Lihiya while he was on his way back to the Gaza Strip after receiving medical treatment at the Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem.
On 13 June 2011, the IOF arrested Iyad Al Jerjawi while he was on his way to the Gaza Strip after receiving medical treatment at the Al Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem.
Patients are frequently tortured during interrogation.
Al Mezan and its partners in Israel, Adalah, and Physicians for Human Rights–Israel had sent a letter to the Israeli Attorney General demanding an immediate halt of this misleading policy towards patients and to ensure unrestricted access to medical treatment in hospitals outside the Gaza Strip.
  The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights strongly condemns the sentencing of Ziyada.
Al Mezan holds the Israeli authorities responsible for the life and health of Ziyada and asserts that the arrest of Palestinian patients demonstrates the continuous Israeli policy of coercion, in flagrant disregard of Israeli legal obligations under international human rights law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Al Mezan, represent Ziyada, emphasizes that his trial fell short of international principles for fair trial, as Ziyada and his lawyer were not provided with any opportunities to mount a defense.
This is common in cases where Palestinians are the accused.
The Israeli courts depend on statements and/or secret evidence that are not revealed to the lawyer or the defendant, even when issuing heavy sentences against Palestinians.
  Al Mezan calls on the international community to intervene to end the Israeli violations of the international humanitarian and human rights law, particularly the continuing deprivation of patient access to hospitals and the exploitation of serious health conditions to arrest patients.
Al Mezan calls on international human rights organizations to expose the workings of the judicial system in Israel and to launch an international campaign to exert pressure on Israel to ensure that it upholds its obligation to pursue justice.