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Arbitrary Detention and Arrest by Israel at the Erez Crossing

Monday, 21 September 2015 07:50 - [6-13 September] - Ref.: 94/2015
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Over the past few years, many Palestinians have been arrested while crossing from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Most of those arrested are initially granted permits by the Israeli authorities to cross for medical or business purposes. Instead of being able to cross, many Palestinians are denied entry, interrogated, and detained by Israeli intelligence.

Erez_CrossingOn the morning of 8 September 2015, Israeli forces arrested Fawzi Abd Al-'Al, 23, at the Erez Crossing while he was on his way to receive medical treatment in Jerusalem. Fawzi had received a permit from the Israeli authorities in order to receive medical treatment in Jerusalem. This came after several attempts and interventions by various local and international human rights organisations, as Israel had initially denied issuance of the permit. This is despite the fact that Fawzi was in dire need of medical attention, that he could not secure in Gaza, after having sustained serious injuries following an accident in March 2015.

On the day of his arrest, Fawzi and his father, Jawdat Abd Al-'Al, 54, were waiting to cross Erez when an Israeli officer in plain clothes approached Fawzi and escorted him to another room. Approximately four hours later, an Israeli officer informed Jawdat that his son was detained by the Israeli intelligence and would be released within two hours. Jawdat asked the Israeli officer why Fawzi was detained, but did not receive an answer. Instead the officer ordered Jawdat to leave the crossing and return to Gaza.  Having been left with no other choice, Jawdat left Erez and returned to Rafah.  Before leaving Erez, Jawdat informed the Palestinian liason office about his son's detention at the hands of the Israeli intelligence.

At approximately 6:00 pm that evening, the Palestinian liason office called Jawdat and confirmed that Fawzi was arrested and remained in Israeli Intelligence custody. An hour later, Jawdat received a phone call from an Israeli military officer, who informed him that Fawzi had been arrested and detained by the Israeli military. Jawdat asked  the officer for the reason of Fawzi's arrest and where he was being detained. The Israeli officer refused to answer Jawdat's questions.

The following morning, on 9 September 2015, Jawdat hired a lawyer from the Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights in Gaza to follow-up on Fawzi's case. Jawdat was informed by the lawyer that Israeli intelligence did not permit the lawyer to visit Fawzi and that Fawzi's arrest was extended for an additional 24 hours. The next day, the lawyer was informed that Fawzi's arrest was extended until 16 September 2015. Fawzi remains in Israeli custody today and at no point did the Israeli officials notify Jawdat of the reason for his son's arrest. (Al-Haq affidavit no. 10992/2015).

Al-Haq calls upon Israel to cease its practice of arbitrarily arresting Palestinians and to strictly abide by its legal obligations under international law. Arbitrary detention is a violation of Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that every individual has the right to liberty and security of person and should not be subject to arbitrary arrest or detention. Under international law, individuals should immediately be informed of the charges of which they are accused. Once arrested or detained, the individual must then be promptly brought before a judge, a period which is often defined as within 48 hours. These very basic procedures were ignored in the case of Fawzi. Al-Haq expresses its concern about the high number of arrests by the Israeli military and calls upon Israel to stop arbitrary arrests of Palestinians, and to strictly abide by its legal obligations under international human rights law.