The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns arresting a Palestinian patient from the Gaza Strip by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) at Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing. The patient was heading to a hospital in the West Bank for medical treatment. PCHR is concerned that he may be subjected to torture, especially as he was supposed to undergo a surgery.According to investigations conducted by PCHR, IOF arrested Bassam Sha’ban Fu’ad Raihan, 24, from Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on 19 January 2012, as he was traveling to al-Mezan Hospital in Hebron through Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing to undergo surgery.

In her testimony to PCHR, the patient’s aunt and companion, Na’ima Fu’ad Sha’ban Raihan, 49, said that the Israeli officer at Beit Hanoun crossing informed her that Bassam was arrested, gave her Bassam’s belongings and ordered her to return to Gaza. Sha’ban Fo’ad Raihan, 50, the patient’s father, said that he received a phone call from IOF informing him that his son is detained in Ashkelon prison. The patient has been detained so far.

PCHR believes that the policy adopted by IOF to arrest patients is a serious violation of international humanitarian law. Furthermore, it is a form of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, especially as it is part of the illegal closure imposed on the Gaza Strip that aggravates the suffering of patients whose treatment is not available in the Gaza Strip hospitals.

It should be noted that IOF positioned at Beit Hanoun crossing arrested two patients from the Gaza Strip while they on their way to West Bank hospitals for medical treatment in November 2011.

In light of the above, PCHR:

1. Strongly condemns the continued arrests of Palestinian patients by IOF in their medical treatment journeys. PCHR calls for the immediate release of all patient prisoners and to ensure not to endanger their lives. Besides, it holds IOF responsible for any deterioration of their health conditions while in detention;

2. Stresses that targeting patients, exploiting their need for medical treatment at hospitals in Israel or the West Bank and blackmailing them constitute serious illegal actions;

3. Calls upon the international community, including the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to fulfill their obligations and stop violations of international law committed by IOF against the Palestinian civilians.