In Gaza, medical permits linked to intelligence gathering
by Jen Marlowe
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Ramzi Kamal remembers his one encounter with an Israel Security Agency (ISA) officer at Erez crossing, the only passenger terminal between Gaza and Israel. It was early 2014, and he was in urgent need of ear surgery that could not be performed in Gaza. Kamal, a soft-spoken 31-year-old Palestinian plumber (whose name has been changed for his protection, along with those of several other sources), applied to the Israeli military for a permit to exit Gaza in order to have the surgery in East Jerusalem. In June he was instructed to report to Erez for a security interview without being offered a reason.
Kamal arrived at the crossing and, after being strip-searched, was led underground to an ISA officer for his interview. The initial questions were about his work. As a plumber, he must have been inside the homes of Hamas members — what did he see there? Who participated in Hamas military parades? Kamal insisted that he had seen nothing and knew nothing.
“I want to treat you, to make the surgery,” the ISA officer said. “If you serve the state of Israel, the state of Israel will serve you.”
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Hedaya and Sharif Sammur with their 3-year-old Zain. Hedaya was questioned by Israel’s Security Agency when she tried to take Zain for treatment inside Israel.
Photo credit: Fadi Abu Shammala