GAZA, September 10, 2013 (WAFA) – A Gaza-based human rights group Tuesday denounced Israeli policy of arresting patients leaving the Gaza Strip through Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing with Israel to reach hospitals in Jerusalem or the West Bank.
Mezan Center for Human Rights said the Israeli authorities at Erez arrested on Sunday Muhammad Zaki Bakri, 24, from Shati refugee camp, west of Gaza City, when he reached the crossing after obtaining an Israeli army-issued permit on his way to a hospital in East Jerusalem for treatment.
It said Bakri, who was accompanied by his mother, was interrogated for several hours by Israeli security service agents, who later told his mother that her son has been arrested and that she has to return to Gaza.
The mother told Mezan that she saw marks of beating on her son’s face and neck and that his cloths were partially torn, indicating he was beaten while in custody.
The center said Bakri was taken to a prison in Askalan and has been remanded until next week.
Patients referred for treatment to hospitals outside the Gaza Strip have in most cases to go through Erez and only after obtaining an Israeli permit.
Mezan said Israel uses agony and despair of Palestinian patients from Gaza to arrest them as they try to get treatment outside Gaza after it was impossible to get the treatment in Gaza hospitals.
Many patients used to travel to Egypt for treatment and go through the Palestinian-controlled Rafah crossing to avoid arrest by Israel.
However, with the constant Egyptian closure of Rafah, patients find no alternative other than to seek treatment in hospitals in Israel, East Jerusalem or the West Bank, which means they have to travel through the Israeli Erez crossing.
Mezan also said Israel often uses the need of people to get a permit for treatment outside Gaza in order to blackmail them into collaborating with it on security matters and spy on their people in Gaza or the West Bank.
It said Israel arrested 14 people as they were trying to cross Erez since the start of this year, seven of them were patients or people accompanying them.