The Beit Hanoun Crossing, called “Erez” by the Israeli Occupation Forces, has become a trap to catch Palestinians requiring treatment in Israeli or Palestinian Hospitals in the West Bank and Jerusalem, as the crossing, which is only open for humanitarian cases, has become a means of catching and arresting Gazans.
The crossing is located in the far north of the Gaza Strip, connecting the Strip to the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948. It is a mandatory passageway for anyone wanting to travel from Gaza to Israel or the West Bank and only those with humanitarian cases that have received permission in advance are allowed to pass through.
Officials and human rights activists say that the crossing has become a means used by the Israeli authorities to detain Palestinians after granting them permits to pass through. It has also become a place to force Gazans to deal with Israeli intelligence.
Rami Riyad Al-Tayeb (32 years old) who is from Jabaliya, a town in north Gaza, applied for a permit to visit his mother living in the West Bank. Nearly 2 months after submitting his application, he received Israeli approval.
Detention and Interrogation
Al-Tayeb said that he arrived to the Beit Hanoun crossing last Tuesday afternoon with his brother Mohammad (23 years old). After three hours of waiting, he and his brother were detained and separated. Rami was released on Wednesday night, whereas his brother Mohammad is still detained.
Rami told Al-Jazeera Net that an investigator from the Israeli intelligence questioned him at the crossing, and was then taken to the Askalan Detention Centre, where he was roughed up, cursed at, continuously insulted, and was without food.
He also said that the Israeli intelligence officer tried to appear as if he knew everything about Rami, his family, and Gaza, and wanted to verify what he had heard about Gaza. However, according to his testimony to Al-Jazeera, Rami said that he treated him “with arrogance and refused anything the investigator said.”
The Israeli investigators charged Rami with “suspicion of working against Israeli security”, but were unable to prove the charges despite the extensive questioning carried out by several investigators, as well as the strip search through x-ray machines at the crossing and detention centre.
As for his father, Riyad, he told Al-Jazeera that his son Mohammad, who is still detained, suffers from a mental illness and has seizures and increased electrical activity in his brain. He is calling for his immediate release due to his health condition as well as the fact that he has no ties with any organization.
Moreover, Riyad Al-Tayeb, who has been detained by the occupation forces, pointed out that Israel granted his sons permission to pass to the West Bank to see their mother, then detained them and kept one in jail, stating that it would have been better for Israel to prohibit them from travelling instead of detaining them.
On his part, the Head of the Fieldwork Unit at Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, Sameer Zaqout, said that the Beit Hanoun Crossing is a trap for Palestinians. After the Occupation Forces issue a permit for Palestinians to pass through, they detain and interrogate them.
Detention and Extortion
Zaqout added that the Al-Mezan Centre has followed and documented a number of arrests as well as the extortion of travellers, especially those who are ill, along with their companions.
He also noted that permit applicants are called in for security interviews at the crossing, and are usually detained and blackmailed into cooperating with the occupation or told to go back and die in Gaza. He considers the crossing a weapon to blackmail travellers.
Moreover, the Palestinian human rights activist pointed out that the Israeli occupation Forces have gone too far in violating the human rights of Palestinians, which is evident in its exemption from legal obligations imposed by the international humanitarian law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention.
He also stressed that the occupation policy at the crossing casts a psychological, social, and physical damper on travellers, the majority of who are patients that Gaza hospitals do not have the means to treat. He emphasized that Israel, as an occupying force, is required to ensure the respect of Palestinian rights of health care, as well as the freedom of movement and travel.
Source: Al Jazeera net