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Closure of Beit Hanoun Crossing Threatens the Lives of Hundreds of Patients in the Gaza Strip

Ref: 113/2012

 

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the
targeting of the Palestinian customs checkpoint, near Beit Hanoun (Erez)
crossing, by Israeli warplanes.  As a
result of the attack, a Palestinian policeman sustained serious wounds, and damage
was caused to surrounding facilities in the area.  PCHR also denounces the Israeli Occupation
Forces’ (IOF) closing of the crossing for a few hours, due to which, specific
categories of Palestinians were denied travel via the crossing, including the
Gaza Strip’s patients who have obtained medical referrals to West Bank and/or
Israeli hospitals.


According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately
07:15 on Wednesday, 24 October 2012, an Israeli warplane attacked the customs
checkpoint “44” of the Ministry of Interior in Gaza, which is
approximately 1,700 meters away from Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing in the
northern Gaza Strip.  As a result, Hassan
Harb Saleh Abu Jabal, 25, a Palestinian policeman from Beit Lahia, sustained
critical wounds, while he was on duty. 
Moreover, major damage was caused to the electricity network supplying
the Gaza Strip with power, and to offices of security services in the area.


At approximately 08:00 on Wednesday, 24 October 2012, IOF closed
Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing and declared the crossing area as a closed military
area.  Due to that decision, all categories
of people who are allowed to travel daily via the crossing, including patients
holding medical referrals to be treated in the West Bank and/or Israeli
hospitals, were prevented from passing through the crossing.  It should be noted that IOF allowed 12
patients and companions, and 5 traders to travel via the crossing in the early
morning before the crossing was closed. 
However, 28 patients, who obtained permits to travel and receive medical
treatment abroad, were prevented from travelling.


Palestinian patients in the Gaza Strip, who suffer from serious
illnesses, depend on medical referrals to hospitals abroad for their medical
treatment.  This dependence is the result
from the inability of the Gaza Strip hospitals to treat these illnesses.  Consequently, 30-50 cases are referred to
hospitals in Israel or the West Bank, including Jerusalem, daily in order to
receive medical treatment or complete their treatment there.


PCHR condemns the continuing Israeli violations against civilians
in the Gaza Strip, and:


· Calls for prompt action to exert pressure
towards keeping Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing open and allow the Gaza Strip’s
patients, who suffer from serious illnesses and hold permits to travel via the crossing,
to travel freely and safely in order to receive medical treatment and prevent
deterioration of their health conditions;

 

· Condemns the policy of collective punishment
practiced by the Israeli authorities against Palestinian civilians, in addition
to the illegal closure imposed on the Gaza Strip for over 5 years now;

 

· Calls upon the IOF to respect its legal
obligations in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949, especially to
guarantee the entry of medical consignments and food aids and to ensure the freedom
of patients’ movement in order for them to receive the adequate medical
treatment;

 

· Calls upon the international community,
including the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to
fulfill their obligations and responsibilities through taking immediate actions
towards putting an end to violations of international law committed by IOF
against Palestinian civilians, particularly patients who need special
protection; and

 

· Calls for halting the targeting of civilians in
the Gaza Strip, who enjoy protection in time of armed conflict and military
occupation according to international humanitarian law and international human
rights law.