Refused Entry to the West Bank, Gaza Doctor Loses Internship

Despite having a permit to travel to Nablus, physician was sent back to Gaza by Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint.

Yotam Berger
Yotam Berger
The Erez border crossing between Israel and northern Gaza Strip.
The Erez border crossing between Israel and northern Gaza Strip.Credit: Reuters
Yotam Berger
Yotam Berger

A Gaza physician has lost his internship at a Nablus hospital because security personnel at the Erez checkpoint would not let him leave Gaza for the West Bank, even though he had a permit to do so and no history of security offenses.

Dr. Alaa Rustom completed his medical studies in 2014. In February 2016 Rustom went to Ramallah with Israeli permission to apply for an internship in the West Bank. He passed the tests and in March he was accepted for an internship at A-Najah Hospital in Nablus. Rustom then applied to the Israeli authorities again to request an exit permit from Gaza to Nablus.

“I asked for a permit several times and was rejected. Finally I succeeded in getting the permit in June,” Rustom wrote to Haaretz from Gaza. But, he says, “When I got to the Erez Crossing, the security forces detained me there for several hours, and then told me I’d have to back to my home in Gaza, without any logical reason.” In his email to Haaretz Rustom attached the permit issued by the State of Israel that allows him to enter Israeli territory to cross to the West Bank.

According to Rustom, when the security forces forbade him entry, he lost his internship. “I lost the opportunity to do an internship at A-Najah for no rational reason. I am not politically active and have no ties with problematic people. I’m a doctor who just wants to do an internship and broaden my scientific abilities.”

The District Coordinating Office for Gaza said Rustom was banned from Israel at the request of the Shin Bet security service, which had marked him as a security risk. But the Shin Bet denied this, saying Rustom had been questioned and approved from a security perspective, and there was no reason not to let him cross to Nablus through Israel.

Security personnel say that Rustom was questioned at the Erez checkpoint on June 14 and after a security check that took a few days, he was found to have a clean record. But apparently no one informed him of this. The Civil Administration said it had updated the Nablus hospital about the developments and it was the hospital that should have been in touch with Rustom.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said that on June 14, Rustom tried to cross at the Erez crossing point and for security reasons it was decided to delay his entry until all the relevant information was examined. “Two weeks afterward his exit was approved, and the officials on the Palestinian side were updated accordingly,” the statement said. “Since then there has been no renewal of the request.”

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