By Palestine Chronicle Staff
Human Rights Watch sent a letter to the Egyptian authorities yesterday, urging it to reveal the whereabouts of four Palestinians who went missing while on their way to the Cairo International Airport, some 20 months ago.
“Egyptian authorities should immediately disclose whether they are or were holding four Palestinian men from Gaza affiliated with Hamas whose whereabouts are unknown,” Human Rights Watch said in its letter to Egypt’s Interior Minister Magdy Abd al-Ghaffar.
Human Rights Watch added that based on reports, including photographs allegedly showing two of the men in a Cairo detention facility, “the families believe they are in Egyptian custody. If true, their prolonged incommunicado detention, with Egyptian authorities denying knowledge of the detention or refusing to reveal their whereabouts, would constitute enforced disappearances. Authorities should immediately charge the men if they suspect them of criminal activity, or otherwise release them.”
Egypt: Confirm Detention of Missing Palestinians https://t.co/lfdiMNxC5p
— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) April 13, 2017
Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch said “Twenty months without contact with the missing men inflicts incalculable anguish and suffering on their families and friends,” adding, “Egyptian authorities should come clean and reveal whether these four disappeared Palestinian men from Gaza are in their custody.”
The men are Abdullah Abu al-Jebain, 23, from the Jabaliya refugee camp; Abd al-Dayyam Abu Lebda, 26, from the al-Bureij refugee camp; Hussein al-Zebda, 29, a resident of Sheikh Radwan; and Yasser Zenoun, 26, a resident of Rafah City.
Their families told Human Rights Watch that the men legally passed through the Rafah crossing on August 19, 2015, calling them from the Egyptian side of the crossing that evening, and later that night boarded a bus headed to Cairo International Airport via the Sinai Peninsula.
Human Rights Watch concluded by saying that revealing the whereabouts of the four men is an unconditional obligation “and cannot be contingent on the fulfillment of demands by the Gaza authorities.”