Former prisoner’s life, health at risk as he is denied right to travel outside Gaza

Tariq Ezzedine

Former Palestinian prisoner Tariq Ezzedine continues to be denied access to lifesaving medical treatment, reported colleagues and his family. Ezzedine was released to the Gaza Strip as part of the 2011 Wafa al-Ahrar prisoner exchange agreement; however, the Egyptian government continues to prevent him from traveling through the Rafah crossing to receive treatment.

Jaafar Ezzedine, Tariq’s brother, spoke to Palestinian news agency Wattan TV; he noted that his brother has leukemia, a form of blood cancer. He has been hospitalized in Gaza for two months but requires treatment that is only available abroad. While his doctors have prepared his medical reports and arranged for him to receive treatment, he has been denied entry into Egypt on two occasions.  His brother is also a former prisoner who participated in a long-term hunger strike in Israeli prisons while held without charge or trial.

During an opening of the Rafah crossing last week, Ezzedine came to the crossing two times after his name was registered on the lists of people approved to travel. Despite this, he was denied on both occasions.

He noted that Palestinian ministries confirmed that Ezzedine’s name was in fact on the list and when Tariq went to the crossing, he was held there for a full day, his passport was kept and taken before he was told that he would not be admitted and must return to Gaza.

Jaafar Ezzedine said that it is apparent that Israeli pressure on the Egyptian government is being exerted in order to prevent Tariq from traveling. He noted that the family will hold a press conference in front of the Egyptian embassy in Ramallah on 3 April in order to escalate pressure on Egypt to allow free travel to Tariq Ezzedine.

Khader Adnan, prominent Palestinian prisoner, also issued a statement from prison, urging action to save the life of Tariq Ezzedine after the deterioration of his health. He emphasized the moral responsibility of the Egyptian authorities to allow Ezzedine to pass and reject the malicious role of the Israeli occupation. He called on all of the Palestinian factions and the former prisoners in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Qatar to act before it is too late for Ezzedine.