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Ref: 25/2017

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) denounces the heinous assassination crime of Mazen Foqahaa’, a prisoner released in the prisoners’ exchange deal in 2011, and follows with deep concern the consequences. PCHR stresses its support for all security efforts endeavored to arrest the perpetrators and bring them into justice according to the law with all due respect to the rights and freedoms of civilians and keeping them away from the incident consequences.

PCHR understands the need of such strict security measures to prevent the perpetrators’ impunity and non-recurrence of such a heinous crime.  Meanwhile, PCHR calls upon the authorities in Gaza to keep civilians away from the consequences of this incident, particularly in light of the suffering of Gaza residents under the tightening closure imposed by Israel for the tenth consecutive year, rendering only a narrow margin of civilians’ fundamental rights.  Thus, PCHR calls upon the authorities in Gaza to ease the complete closure of Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing in the northern Gaza Strip in front of the travelers’ movement from the Gaza Strip as its impact would increase the suffering of civilians and contribute to increasing their isolation from the outside world.

On Friday, 24 March 2017, unknown armed persons opened fire from a firearm with suppressor at Mazen Mohamed Suliman Foqahaa’, a former prisoner who was deported to the Gaza Strip following the prisoner exchange deal in 2011.  Foqahaa’ was shot dead when he was in front of his house in Tal al-Hawa neighbourhood, south of Gaza City. After declaring his death, Hamas Movement said that Israel is fully responsible for the assassination crime of Foqahaa’, depending on the merits of the crime and prior threats Foqaha received from the Israeli Intelligence Service accusing him of being involved in military activities against the Israeli forces in the West Bank. It should be noted that Israel did not deny its responsibility for the crime and remained silent.

On Sunday, 25 March, following the assassination, the Interior Ministry in Gaza announced that its checkpoint at Beit Hanoun Crossing known as (4/4), north of the Gaza Strip, is closed to travelers’ movement from Gaza while allowing the travelers’ movement into Gaza. Iyad al-Bozom, Spokesperson of the Interior Ministry in Gaza, emphasized that the Beit Hanoun checkpoint (4/4) was closed until further notice to the movement of those travelling from Gaza. He said that the closure comes as part of the measures taken by the security services following the assassination of former prisoner Mazen Foqahaa’. Al-Bozom added that, considering the humanitarian circumstances, only humanitarian cases from the Gaza Strip are allowed to return to Gaza via the Beit Hanoun crossing. In response, the Israeli authorities completely closed Beit Hanoun crossing “Erez” and prevented those returning into the Gaza Strip.

PCHR condemns in the strongest terms the assassination crime of former prisoner Foqahaa’ and understands the security measures necessarily taken for avoiding the perpetrator’s impunity.  PCHR emphasizes that revealing the truth and bringing perpetrators to justice is a high duty of the judicial system that in any case should not be accompanied with the increase of civilians’ suffering.