Since the beginning of the Oslo Peace Accords and the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in 1994 Israel has consolidated its closure policy first introduced in 1991. Whereas Palestinians could move fairly freely between the West Bank and East Jerusalem as well as between the Gaza strip and the West Bank before the beginning of the peace process, this has changed dramatically, specially since the outbreak of the al-Aqsa intifada in September 2000. Already in October 2000 the "Safe Passage" road designed to allow free movement for Palestinians between the Gaza strip and the West Bank was closed and it has not been reopened since. Consequently, families and friends have not been able to visit each other and students and workers have been unable to attend universities and work places.
The que at Abu Houli checkpoint Photo: PCHR Field worker
Besides the social and human consequences of the Israeli closure policy, it has also had a devastating effect on Palestinian economy. Not only is Israel controlling all movement between the West Bank and Gaza, it also controls the borders between the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and Egypt, Jordan and Israel itself, making it impossible for people to get to their work places in Israel, as well as for businesses to export their commodities
Consequently, both the unemployment rate and the number of people living below the international poverty level at 2 dollars per day have risen dramatically in the OPT.
Furthermore, Israel controls all movement within the Palestinian controlled areas, posing strict restrictions on the civilian population in order for them to move between villages. Often areas are totally sealed off for days by military checkpoints. Students are prevented from reaching their schools and universities, workers can not get to their work places and commodities can not reach markets just a few kilometers from where they are produced. The Israeli closure policy affects every aspect of Palestinian life as a form of collective punishment illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention; the policy is also a violation of several Articles in the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Moreover, the UN Committee Against Torture has found that the Israeli government's closure policy "may, in certain instances, amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" in violation of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has put together a collection of links on the subject "closure" in order to make it easier for the users of our web site to get an adequate impression of the Israeli closure policy.
Relevant Articles in International Humanitarian Law
Fact sheet: Siege and Closure
PCHR Closure Reports
Articles and Feature Stories from the International Media
Checkpoint maps of the Gaza strip and the West Bank