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Published @ 11.00 hours GMT on August 6, 1997

CLOSURE UPDATE NO. 19

Report by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

on the Closure Imposed by Israel

on the Gaza Strip

Israeli authorities continue to tighten the closure of the Occupied Territories, including areas under the authority of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The strict closure has been in place since the afternoon of July 30, in the aftermath of two unclaimed suicide bombings in Western Jerusalem. Under the new closure measures, Israeli authorities sealed off the West Bank and Gaza Strip completely, while a comprehensive ban on the movement of goods and individuals between the Palestinian territories through Israel was imposed, and an internal closure was imposed in the West Bank where areas under Palestinian jurisdiction, classified as Area A, are all closed and separated from their rural peripheries, classified as Area B. The steps gradually taken in the past few months to ease the closure have all been canceled. The PCHR has followed the deterioration of the situation in the Palestinian territories in general and in the Gaza Strip in particular. This update monitors and documents the effects of the Israeli closure on the human rights situation in Gaza and its destructive effects on all aspects of life in the Gaza Strip.

In this issue, the following items will be covered:

 

The imposition of the comprehensive closure on the Palestinian Territories severely escalates the deteriorating situation in the region. The closure of the Occupied Territories is a collective punishment against the Palestinian people, prohibited by international agreements and covenants, including the 4th Geneva Convention of 1929.

The PCHR reiterates both its position against the imposition of collective punishment by the government of Israel against the Palestinian people, and its belief that the security justification for the closure claimed by the government of Israel has no basis in fact. The Centre also takes the position that this kind of collective punishment never has and never will contribute to the security of the state of Israel for the following reasons:

First, that suicide bombing operations against Israelis have been carried out in spite of the closures imposed on the West Bank and Gaza Strip by Israel. It is evident that the perpetrators of the recent bombing did not have permits to travel to Israel, but managed to find a way in regardless.

Second, that hundreds of Palestinian citizens are being arrested by Israeli forces on a monthly basis for their infiltration into Israeli territory without permits for the sake of work. If these ordinary citizens are able to penetrate Israeli checkpoints and borders to reach their places of employment, it is naive to believe that an individual who has decided to carry out a suicide bombing operation would be deterred by the checkpoints and restrictions placed on the freedom of movement.

Once again, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights believes the government of Israel should reconsider its policy of closure, and tackle the real causes behind the deterioration of the security situation in the area. Such causes include the Israeli policy of settlement building and expansion in the Occupied Territories, which was a leading factor in the deadlock in negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights calls upon the international community to denounce the Israeli closure policy and collective punishment of the Palestinian people. Basic human rights, such as the right to medical treatment, freedom of movement, freedom to associate with one’s family and freedom to seek productive employment must be accorded to the civilian population. We urge the human rights community to take immediate action by contacting the following officials to demand the lifting of the closure measures:

Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Housing

Office of the Prime Minister

3 Kaplan Street

Jerusalem 91919

State of Israel

Telegrams: Prime Minister Netanyahu, Jerusalem, Israel

Telexes: 25279 mpres il

Faxes: +972 2 566-4838

 

Mr. Avigdor Kahalani

Minister of Internal Security

Ministry of Internal Security

PO Box 18182

3 Sheikh Jarrah

Kiryat Hamemshala

Jerusalem 91181

State of Israel

Telegrams: Internal Security Minister, Jerusalem, Israel

Fax: +972 2 582-6769

General Yitzhak Mordechai

Minister of Defence

Ministry of Defence

7 A Street, Hakirya, Tel Aviv

State of Israel

Telegrams: Defence Minister, Tel Aviv, Israel

Faxes: +972 3 697-6218

and diplomatic representatives of Israel accredited to your country.

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