The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns that the Internal Security Service (ISS) stationed at Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing in the northern Gaza Strip prevented one of PCHR’s clients namely, Diaa’ Musalam al-Sheikh ‘Eid, born in 1979 in Rafah City, from heading to an interview related to a compensation case filed before an Israeli court about the killing of his brother, ‘Alaa’ Musalam al-Sheikh ‘Eid, by Israeli forces.
This case goes back to when hundreds of Palestinian civilians from Rafah City organized on 19 May 2004 a peaceful demonstration in solidarity with the residents of Tal al-Sultan neighborhood due to being besieged by the Israeli forces at that time. According to eyewitnesses, when the demonstrators arrived at Zo’arob Square, which is 500 meters away from Tal al-Sultan neighborhood, an Israeli tank stationed in the area fired shells at the peaceful demonstration. This coincided with an Israeli airstrike, killing 6 civilians and wounding others.
Based on a power of attorney granted by the victims’ families to PCHR in order to take the necessary legal procedures to follow up the case, on 23 June 2004, PCHR filed a complaint to the Compensation Office of the Israeli Ministry of Defense and the Israeli military prosecution of the Southern District. The complaint demanded opening an investigation into the attack, holding the perpetrators accountable and ensuring remedy for the victim’s family.
PCHR then received a negative response, refusing to take legal accountability and ensure remedy for the victims’ families. Accordingly, PCHR filed a compensation case before the Haifa Magistrate Court, demanding compensation for the victims’ families for the killing of their sons by the Israeli forces. The Israeli public prosecution then deposited a submission in response to PCHR’s case.
Based on the legal follow-up of the case, we were informed yesterday afternoon by the liaison office in Gaza that our clients in the abovementioned case were summoned for a security interview at Erez crossing. We contacted our clients and informed them they should go to Erez crossing to have the interview with the Israeli security services.
We were surprised today morning that our client was banned from traveling. Following direct intervention with competent authorities, PCHR learnt that a decision was issued banning any Palestinian from traveling for a security interview with the Israeli security services at Erez crossing.
It should be noted that this is the second time that our client is banned from traveling for the interview. On 06 April 2017, he was summoned but couldn’t go for the interview upon a decision issued by Gaza Ministry of Interior on 27 March 2017, banning the travel of Palestinians through Erez crossing.
A hearing is scheduled on 24 April 2017; however, the travel ban will negatively affect the course of the case that has been followed up by PCHR for over 12 years.
This measure constitutes a substantial threat for all PCHR’s efforts dedicated for the prosecution of Israeli war criminals, taking in consideration that litigation before the Israeli courts is a precondition for litigation before international courts. Furthermore, dozens of cases require having interviews with the Israeli police and military prosecution and appearance of witnesses before courts.
Therefore, PCHR calls upon the authorities in Gaza to spare the civilians any measures that would undermine their right to the freedom of movement from and to the Gaza Strip, especially in view of the hardships endured by civilians in the Gaza Strip due to the 10-year-old Israeli closure.