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Affidavit No. 5229/2010

Sworn Statement

After having been warned to tell the truth and nothing but the truth or else I shall be subjected to penal action, I, the undersigned, Muhammad ‘Ali Yousef Abu-Za’nouna, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 800030355, born on 18 June 1983, a public servant, and a resident of Jabaliya refugee camp, Northern Gaza governorate, would like to declare the following:

My name is Muhammad ‘Ali Yousef Abu-Za’nouna. I am 26 years old, married, and a father of a boy, who is one year old. I work as a Preventive Security officer in the Palestinian National Authority and live in a rented flat in the Concord Residential Tower, near Abu-Sharkh roundabout in the al-Falouja neighbourhood in the Jabaliya refugee camp.

Since I was a child, I have suffered from problems with my vision. Over time, the problem has worsened, particularly since 2000, when I began working in computer programming. I sit at computers for an extended period time every day. I have reported to specialised doctors in Gaza who have conducted the necessary medical examinations. A year and a half ago they decided that I should have a cornea transplant. For a long time, I reported to doctors at hospitals in order to obtain a patient transfer report to conduct the surgical operation at a hospital in the West Bank or in Israel given that this kind of surgical procedure is not available in the Gaza Strip. However, my attempts were in vain. Therefore, doctors decided that I should wear a special type of contact lenses as a temporary solution until I am able to undergo the operation.

I have worn the contact lenses for a long time. However, this temporary solution has not been effective. On the contrary, my sight has deteriorated. No treatment for my sight problem is possible without having the surgery. My vision was reduced to less than one metre and I was in a very bad psychological condition. I reported to Musallam Optical Centre, which is a specialised centre that is accredited by the government. I then addressed the Department of Medical Treatment Abroad in Gaza City. Finally I resorted to some connections and on the 14 December 2009, I managed to obtain a patient transfer report to receive medical treatment at the Musallam Optical Centre in the city of Ramallah. The Centre’s branch in Ramallah scheduled an appointment for my surgery on 29 December 2009, as long as I was there on time. Thereafter, I submitted an application to obtain an access permit through the Erez Crossing Point to the Coordination Office at the Ministry of Civil Affairs in Gaza, the only body authorised to follow up with the occupying authorities on issuing permits to access Israel. I submitted the application on the same day I received the appointment for the surgery; i.e. on 17 December 2009.

I did not receive an answer about the permit throughout that period, so I scheduled another appointment for surgery. A few days before my operation date, on the evening of Sunday, 4 January 2010, I received a telephone call from an employee at the Coordination Office at the Ministry of Civil Affairs. He told me that I should meet with Israeli intelligence at the Erez Crossing the next morning so that they could decide whether to grant me an access permit to Israel. The Israeli occupying authorities impose this measure on all ailing Gazan civilians who need to travel through the Erez Crossing Point.

At around 8:00 am the next day, I travelled to the Erez Crossing Point. When I reached the Palestinian side of the Crossing, an employee at the Coordination Office contacted the Israeli side. Then, he requested that I walk for a distance of about one and a half kilometres to reach the Israeli side of the Crossing, which I did. After I arrived at the Israeli side, I was subjected to a search by an electronic device that revolved around my body. According to the orders of the person who was present at the gate, I put all my personal belongings in a box. Then I entered a waiting room inside the Crossing and sat from 9:30 am until 3:30 pm without any food or drink. Another five men in poor health and one woman were in my company.

Later, three Israeli intelligence officers came, took me to a room, and demanded that I take off all my clothes and keep on only my underwear. After I was subjected to a thorough body search by hand and by a small electronic device, I was allowed to put on my clothes. Having walked with them through corridors and passageways, they took me to a small room underground. In the room, I was seated in front of a TV screen and DVD player, which showed pictures of members of Hamas and Gaza police forces beating citizens in the aftermath of Hamas’ seizure of control over the Gaza Strip. An Israeli person also talked about Hamas members who use mosques in the Gaza Strip to store weapons and train vandals, as he described them.

After I stayed in the room for about 15 minutes, officers took me to an interrogation room, where an Israeli intelligence officer sat at a desk with a computer on it. The intelligence officer interrogated me for almost two and a half hours. He presented images of the area where I lived and demanded that I show him houses belonging to Hamas members in the area. He also inquired about the political affiliations of my neighbours, about the places where weapons are stored, and who stored the weapons in the area of my residence. Additionally, he demanded that I give him information about Hamas members and their activities in the area. In return, he would allow me to obtain a permit to access Israel and have my surgical operation.

Later, a girl entered the room and he asked me what I thought of her. He also asked if I wanted to sleep with her in return for agreeing to cooperate with him. He demanded that I contact him by telephone and e-mail and offered to meet with me in Ramallah, Jerusalem or Nablus. He also offered to facilitate my arrival to the city of Ramallah, in order to conduct my operation, and all of my movement in the West Bank and Israel He also offered to give me a large sum of money if I agreed to collaborate with him.

I absolutely rejected this blackmail by the Israeli intelligence officer. I told him that I preferred not to have the operation and that I did not want to collaborate with him because I did not have any information about anybody. I reiterated that I could not cooperate with him under any circumstances. Then, the intelligence officer searched my wallet, photocopied an electricity bill registered for the flat I rented, and confiscated my Orange mobile telephone sim card. After this he demanded that I leave the room and intelligence officers came and took me to a neighbouring room, where I sat in front of the TV screen for about an hour and a half. Then the officers arrived, handed over my personal belongings, and demanded that I go back to my house without looking back.

I returned to my house the same way I had reached the Erez Crossing Point. Having now reported on several occasions to the Coordination Office at the Ministry of Civil Affairs, employees told me that the Israeli occupying authorities’ reply to my request for a permit to access Israel had not yet arrived. As is known at the Ministry, the Israeli reply usually arrives within a maximum period of one week. Each day my health deteriorates further because the Israeli occupying authorities did not grant me a permit to access Israel and prevented me from travelling to the city of Ramallah to have the surgical operation. This is because I refused to be blackmailed, and refused to collaborate with the intelligence by giving information about the resistance.

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: 5229/2010
  • Field researcher: Mohammad Abu Rahmah
  • Affidavit Date: 13 January 2010
  • Name: Muhammad ‘Ali Yousef Abu-Za’nouna
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