Israel Coerces Sick Gazans to Spy: Report

Israel’s secret police are coercing patients from the Gaza Strip who seek urgent medial assistance to sign up as informants before being allowed to leave the besieged territory, an Israeli human rights group said Monday, August 4.

"Interrogators propose to patients directly and openly to collaborate and/or provide them with information on an ongoing basis," stressed Physicians for Human Rights.

A report based on testimonies of more than 30 Palestinians said patients are taken to a small, windowless room, beneath the security terminal at Erez border crossing.

During interrogation, they are asked to collaborate with Israel in return for access to medical assistance.

Once an agent "has established control over a patient, permitting medical treatment is explicitly or implicitly made contingent upon collaboration."

Refusal to cooperate often results in the denial of medical treatment.

International law forbids the use of civilians in conflict to damage an enemy state.

Requests for medical help in Israel – which is funded by the Palestinian Authority – jumped from about 600 a month at the beginning of 2007 to about 1,000 a month by the end of the year.

As a result, the proportion of sick Gazans permitted to cross into Israel has dropped sharply from 90 percent in early 2007 to 62 percent by the end of the year.

"The patient knows that refusal to respond to the interrogator’s questions and demands will ruin his chances to access medical treatment," said the report.


Bassam al-Wahidi, 28, is just one of many Palestinians who paid dearly for refusing to spy on his people.

When he tried to cross Erez to get urgent medical assistance in Israel he had a tough choice to make.

"They took me through underground passages and made me sit in another waiting room for almost 45 minutes," he said in his affidavit to Physicians for Human Rights.

"A man approached me and called me to another room for interrogation. He asked me to sit down and presented himself as Moshe."

The Israeli officer openly asked the sick Gazan to spy on his fellow Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.

"’I want to talk to you openly when you return from Israel so that you will have an acceptable reputation on the Israeli side’," Wahidi recalled the officer telling him.

"’Either you make contact with me and agree to my demands, or you will not get any medical treatment which will cause you to be blind and you will become a burden to your family and friends.’"

Wick Wahidi was sent back to Gaza without medical treatment after refusing to become an Israeli spy.

Now, he is completely blind in his right eye and is losing his overstrained left eye.

"I might divorce because I can’t stand in front of my wife as a disabled person."

( and news agencies)

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