Published on 2 June 2003

 

CLOSURE UPDATE NO. 44

1 December 2002 – 30 April 2003

 

A Report by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights on the Closure Imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip

 

 

Introduction

 

This is the 43rd in a series of updates published since 1996 by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights on the closure imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip.  PCHR has resumed publishing these updates since the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada on 29 September 2000, as Israeli occupying forces have imposed a total closure on the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).  This update highlights the impacts of the Israeli policy of closure on the living conditions of Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip over the period 1 December 2003 – 30 April 2003. 

 

On Wednesday, 16 April 2003, Israeli occupying forces tightened the siege imposed on the OPT and restricted movement of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, claiming that they had received warnings by security services that armed attacks were expected to take place during the Jewish Easter holiday.  Israeli occupying forces closed the King Hussein and Sheikh Hussein bridges between the West Bank and Jordan, and Rafah Border Crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.  They declared that these measures would be in effect until Sunday morning, 20 April 2003. 

 

In the Gaza Strip, on Tuesday, 15 April 2003, Israeli occupying forces closed al-Matahen and Abu Houli military checkpoints on Salah al-Din Street (the main road between the north and south of the Gaza Strip) and “Netzarim” junction on the coastal road between Gaza city and the central Gaza Strip.  Consequently, the Gaza Strip was separated into three isolated zones: Rafah and Khan Yunis in the south; the center; and Gaza city and the north.   Under these conditions the Gaza Strip has come to resemble a large detention facility, where more than 1.3 million Palestinians are surrounded by Israeli settlements, military locations and tanks. 

 

Palestinian fishermen were denied access to the sea as Israeli occupying forces imposed a marine siege on the Gaza Strip.  Israeli occupying forces also closed commercial crossings in the Gaza Strip, and the  al-Tuffah and Tal al-Sultan military checkpoints in Khan Yunis and Rafah respectively, isolating the al-Mawasi area from the rest of the Gaza Strip. 

 

Israeli closure policies have resulted in violations of the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian civilian population in the OPT.  Despite warnings by international no-governmental and governmental organizations of the consequences of the policy of closure adopted by Israeli occupying forces against the Palestinian civilian population, there is no indication that Israeli occupying forces will halt such policies.  PCHR asserts that the indiscriminate and widespread harm to all aspects of daily life in Gaza Strip due to Israeli closure polices constitute a form collective punishment as prohibited by the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949 (article 33). 

 

The Israeli claim that these closures are one in a series of security measures that aim at stopping violence has proven to be fallacious, as such measures have been ineffective in preventing Palestinians from carrying out attacks against Israeli targets. 

 

The Israeli belligerent occupation of the Gaza Strip also constitutes a violation of the basic human rights of the Palestinian civilian population. The international community is required to ensure the application of international humanitarian and human rights standards in times of peace and conflict.  The PCHR calls on the international community to intervene to ensure that the Palestinian peoples rights to self-determination and political, economic and social independence is respected by Israel.  

 

   

  

 

1)          Violation of the Right to Free Movement

 

Since the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada, Israeli occupying forces have restricted movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.  These forces have repeatedly closed the  Rafah Border Crossing, the only outlet between the Gaza Strip and the outside world for Palestinians. They have also closed the Gaza International Airport and the "Safe Passage" linking the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, have prevented the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip from traveling through al-Lud (Ben Gurion) Airport, and have prevented Gazans from traveling through al-Karama crossing on the Palestinian-Jordanian border. 

 

Israeli military checkpoints in the Gaza Strip have restricted movement of Palestinians between the southern, central and northern parts of the Gaza Strip.  The right to free movement is a fundamental human right that must be ensured for all persons. Israeli restrictions on the movement of Palestinians also violate the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, particularly article 33, which prohibits collective penalties against protected civilian persons. 

 

1.            Continued Restrictions on Travel

 

Under the Interim Agreements between the PLO and the Israeli government, Israeli occupying authorities have control over the crossings and outlets of the Gaza Strip.  These forces have repeatedly closed Rafah Border Crossing since the outbreak of Al-Aqsa Intifada.  At the time of the writing of this report the latest closure of the Rafah Crossing took place on Sunday and Monday, 15 and 16 September 2002.  Israeli occupying authorities have adopted unnecessarily complex and time-consuming procedures at the crossing, severely restricting travel of thousands of Palestinians.  Several months ago, Israeli occupying forces cancelled the travel procedures that were followed before the Intifada and adopted new procedures, including decreasing the number of Palestinian employees working at the crossing to 4, one of whom is responsible for collecting fees of travel from travelers, another is responsible for collecting passports and handing them to Israeli employees, while the two others are porters.   Israeli soldiers have assumed complete responsibility for customs.  Travelers coming from Egypt are subject to strict and extensive searches.  The crossing operates between 09:00 and 14:00 for departing travelers and between 09:00 and 16:00 for arriving travelers, although it used to operate 24 hours a day before the Intifada.  Israeli occupying authorities have attempted to intimidate the crossing of travelers through the checkpoint.  At times, they start work at the crossing after 09:00, arbitrarily obstruct travel of some people and interrogate some travelers. 

 

PCHR confirms that Palestinians traveling through Rafah Border Crossings face inhuman and degrading treatment by Israeli occupying forces.  At times, it takes a Gazan who wishes to travel from the Gaza Strip to Egypt or vice-versa a number of days to get through the crossing.  For instance, for a week beginning on Wednesday, 18 December 2002, 400-600 Palestinian travelers wishing to enter the Gaza Strip were forced to spend 2-3 days at the Egyptian side of the crossing as Israeli occupying forces obstructed their access to the Palestinian side of the crossing.  The same happened on 1 January 2003.  Hundreds of Palestinian travelers are forced to spend days at the Egyptian side of the crossing, waiting to be allowed by Israeli occupying forces to enter the Gaza Strip.  There are no facilities at the Egyptian side of the terminal and travelers are forced to spend long hours in the sun and sleep on the floor outside.  The lack of basic sanitation facilities in particular poses a serious health concern.  Israeli occupying forces have often decreased work hours at the crossing to 6 hours a day, while at the same time increasing the amount of time they check the identity and search the bags of Palestinian travelers.

 

In an unprecedented escalation of restrictions on the freedom of movement, on Tuesday, 7 January 2003, Israeli occupying authorities issued a decision that prohibited Palestinians of the ages 16-35 from traveling through Rafah border crossing.  The decisions excluded VIPs of categories A and B and females.  The decision was implemented on the following day.  Since that date, the decision has been in effect.  Thousands of Palestinians, including patients and students, have been denied their right to travel abroad.  On Monday, 3 March 2003, Israeli occupying forces declared that they had canceled the decision.  About 320 travelers, including 250 students, of this age category were able to travel.  These new procedures remained in effect until Saturday, 8 March 2003, under a number of conditions put by Israeli occupying forces, including:

 

*     The number of travelers of this age category must night exceed 40 a day.

*     10 travelers of this age category can travel in each bus.

*     Travelers of this age category must be interviewed by Israeli security officers.

 

Israeli intelligence officers interrogate hundreds of Palestinian travelers and often arrest a number of them.  In this context, on Saturday, 11 January 2003, Israeli occupying forces arrested Tayseer ‘Ayada Bader Sha’at, 26, from Rafah, and ‘Omar Mohammed Ahmed Abu al-‘Ata, 36, from Gaza city, at the crossing, while they were on their way back to the Gaza Strip.  On 15 January 2003, Israeli occupying forces arrested ‘Alaa’ Shehada Mohammed Abu Jazar, 27, while he was on his way back to the Gaza Strip after having accompanied his father who received medical treatment in Egypt. 

 

2.            Movement between the West Bank and Gaza Strip

 

Under the current total siege imposed by Israeli occupying forces on the OPT, residents of the Gaza Strip have been denied access to the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem which has been isolated from the rest of the OPT.  According to the Interim Agreements between the PLO and Israel, Palestinians have the right to free movement between the West Bank and Gaza Strip through the "Safe Passage," which extends from Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip and Tarqumia village near Hebron in the West Bank.  Since the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada, Israeli occupying forces have closed the "Safe Passage," denying movement of Palestinians between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  Consequently, commercial transactions witnessed a setback, Gazan students studying at universities of the West Bank have not been able to travel back to the Gaza Strip and Gazan members of the Palestinian Legislative Council have not been able to attend sessions of the council in the West Bank, forcing them to hold sessions through telephone and video conferences.  It is worth noting that the “Safe Passage” is the only path available for Palestinians to move between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. 

 

3.            Restriction of Movement inside the Gaza Strip

 

Over the period under study, Israeli occupying forces closed Salah al-Din Street, the main road between the north and south of the Gaza Strip, on a number of occasions.  They also imposed curfews on some areas, such as al-Mawasi area in the southern Gaza Strip, Wadi al-Salqa village in the central Gaza Strip and al-Sayafa area in the northern Gaza Strip. 

 

Israeli occupying forces often close Salah al-Din Street at al-Matahen and Abu Houli military checkpoints, block vehicles between the two checkpoints and check and humiliate Palestinians traveling between the south and north of the Gaza Strip, as was the case on 3, 20, 21, 26 and 31 January, 19 and 20 February and 11 and 19 March 2003.  For instance, at approximately 15:30 on Wednesday, 19 March 2003, Israeli soldiers blocked a number of civilian cars between the aforementioned checkpoints.  They forced Palestinian passengers to get out of their cars and then checked them and their identity cards.  They arrested Mohammed Ahmed ‘Abdul Mo’ti Abu ‘Amra, 19, a university student from Rafah.  The same happened on the following day, but no arrests were reported. 

 

Over the period 16-30 April 2003, Israeli occupying forces totally closed the two checkpoints, prohibiting movement between the north and south of the Gaza Strip.

 

The following table shows cases of closure of al-Matahen Abu Houli military checkpoints and the coastal road between the central Gaza Strip and Gaza city over the period 1 January – 30 April 2003:

 

Area

Date

Kind of closure

Khan Yunis

03/01/2003

Closure of al-Matahen and Abu Houli checkpoints

Khan Yunis

20/01/2003

Closure of al-Matahen and Abu Houli checkpoints

Khan Yunis

21/01/2003

Closure of al-Matahen and Abu Houli checkpoints

Gaza

24/01/2003

Closure of the coastal road

Gaza

26/01/2003

Closure of all roads

Gaza

31/01/2003

Closure of the coastal road

Khan Yunis

19/02/2003

Closure of al-Matahen and Abu Houli checkpoints

Gaza

20/02/2003

Division of the Gaza Strip into three isolated zones

Deir al-Balah

24/02/2003

A large checking campaign on Salah al-Din Street

Khan Yunis

11/03/2003

Closure of Salah al-Din Street for 3 hours

Khan Yunis

19/03/2003

Closure of al-Matahen and Abu Houli checkpoints

Khan Yunis

26/03/2003

Closure of al-Matahen and Abu Houli checkpoints for several hours and campaign of checking

Khan Yunis

27/03/2003

Closure of al-Matahen and Abu Houli checkpoints for several hours and campaign of checking

Khan Yunis

28/03/2003

Closure of al-Matahen and Abu Houli checkpoints and a campaign of checking

Khan Yunis

29/03/2003

Closure of al-Matahen and Abu Houli checkpoints and a campaign of checking

Khan Yunis

30/03/2003

Closure of al-Matahen and Abu Houli checkpoints and a campaign of checking

Khan Yunis

31/03/2003

Closure of al-Matahen and Abu Houli checkpoints and a campaign of checking

Khan Yunis

02/04/2003

Closure of al-Matahen and Abu Houli checkpoints and a campaign of checking

Khan Yunis

16-30/04/2003

Closure of al-Matahen and Abu Houli checkpoints and campaigns of checking

 

Israeli occupying forces often block Palestinian vehicles for up to 10 hours, and thousands of Palestinian civilians have to wait at the two checkpoints to be allowed to travel between the south and north of the Gaza Strip. 

 

In his testimony to PCHR concerning Israeli practices against Palestinian civilians at the al-Matahen and Abu Houli military checkpoints, M. N., from Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza city, said:

 

“I live in Sheikh Radwan neighborhood.  At approximately 15:00 on Tuesday, 18 February 2003, I arrived at Abu Houli military checkpoint and it was closed.  Two hours later, it was reopened and I crossed it towards Khan Yunis and then to Rafah to visit some friends.  I spent the night there.  On the following day, Wednesday, 19 February 2003, I decided to travel back home.  I moved towards al-Matahen checkpoint, north of Khan Yunis, at approximately 15:00.  I found it closed.  There were many people waiting there.  They told me that the checkpoint would remain closed, so I decided to go back to Khan Yunis, where I spent the night.  At approximately 06:00 on Thursday, 20 February 2003, I moved towards al-Matahen checkpoint, but again it was closed.  Hundreds of people, including pilgrims from the central Gaza Strip and Gaza city were waiting in very cold, stormy weather.  I decided to wait at the checkpoint until Israeli soldiers reopen it.  Israeli soldiers fired at us to force us to travel back to Khan Yunis.  Some women fainted as they were exhausted by waiting for so long.  I spent the night there, but the checkpoint was not opened.  So, on Friday morning, 21 February 2003, I decided to go to Khan Yunis,

without knowing when I would be able to travel back to Gaza city.”

 

 

In his testimony to PCHR, K. S. said:

 

“I live in Khan Yunis.  I work as a teacher in a public school in Gaza city.  After I had finished my work on Wednesday, 19 March 2003, I went shopping in Gaza city.  It took me several hours.  At approximately 16:00, I arrived at Abu Houli checkpoint, south of Deir al-Balah.  It was closed.  There were a number of cars waiting there.  People told me that the checkpoint was suddenly closed half an hour earlier.  I noticed that there were a number of cars blocked between Abu Houli checkpoint and al-Matahen checkpoint, north of Khan Yunis.  Israeli military jeeps and soldiers were deployed between the two checkpoints.  I realized that they were searching the blocked cars.  I waited with other people, whose number was increasing, at Abu Houli checkpoint.  There were rumors that the checkpoint would remain closed due to the Gulf war.  Israeli soldiers arrested a Palestinian, who did not have an identity card.  The checkpoint was reopened at 20:00.” 

 

In his testimony to PCHR, T.S. said:

 

“I live in Khan Yunis.  I work as a correspondent of the daily local al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, and as part of my job, I often got to Gaza city.  At approximately 10:00 on Wednesday, 26 March 2003, I traveled towards Gaza city.  I arrived at al-Matahen checkpoint, north of Khan Yunis.  I had to wait with other people for approximately half an hour until the traffic light at the checkpoint turned green.  I crossed the checkpoint towards Gaza city.  After I had finished my work in Khan Yunis, I traveled back to Khan Yunis.  I arrived at Abu Houli checkpoint, south of Deir al-Balah, at approximately 14:30.  There was a very long queue of cars waiting at the checkpoint.  I got out of the car and walked forward until I got close to the checkpoint.  The traffic light at the checkpoint was red.  There was an Israeli military vehicle stopping at the checkpoint and surrounded by a number of Israeli soldiers.  It was cold, stormy weather.  People, including students and old people, gathered hoping that the checkpoint would be opened.  The checkpoint was opened at approximately 18:30.  Restrictions at Israeli military checkpoints erected on Salah al-Din Street have made me decrease my visits to Gaza City, which forced me to quit my professional courses.  In addition, I was not able to obtain books to complete my master thesis.  Despite these difficulties, I was able to finish my thesis, but I have not been able to travel to the Institute of the Arab League in Egypt to discuss my thesis, as Israeli occupying authorities have prevented Palestinians under 35 from traveling abroad.”        

    

 

 

 

  

 

4.            Isolation of Some Areas

 

·              Al-Mawasi Area in the Southern Gaza Strip

 

Al-Mawasi area is located in the southern Gaza Strip, extending from the Egyptian border in the south to the edge of Deir al-Balah in the north.  Israeli occupying forces have imposed a strict siege on al-Mawasi area in the southern Gaza Strip since the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000. The area is categorized under the Interim Agreement between the PLO and Israel as area B, under Israeli security control.  Palestinians living in the area, approximately 15000, have suffered from Israeli measures that restrict their movement.  They can move from and into the area only through two Israeli military checkpoints: al-Tuffah checkpoint west of Khan Yunis refugee camp, and Tal al-Sultan checkpoint west of Rafah.

 

Israeli occupying forces have restricted movement of the Palestinian population of al-Mawasi area.  Over the period under study, Israeli occupying forces have often closed the al-Tuffah military checkpoint, west of Khan Yunis, denying movement of Palestinians into and outside the area.  Consequently, dozens of Palestinian civilians, mostly women who went out of the area to receive medical treatment, were forced to wait near the checkpoint under the sun.  Some people were forced to wait a number of days before being allowed to return to the area. 

 

In her testimony to PCHR, S.Z. said:

 

“I live with my 8-member family in al-Mawasi area of Khan Yunis.  I got out of the area at approximately 09:30 on Saturday, 15 February 2003, through al-Tuffah military checkpoint, to receive medical treatment as I suffer from a heart disease.  After I had received medical treatment and visited my relatives in Khan Yunis, I traveled to the checkpoint to go back home.  I arrived at the checkpoint at approximately 14:00.  After a period of waiting, I went to the checking area, but Israeli soldiers refused to allow me to cross the checkpoint.  I told them that I am an old, sick woman, but they prevented me from crossing the checkpoint.  I cried and went back to the area where many people were gathered. We went to offices of the Palestinian liaison, where we were told that our entrance into the area would be coordinated and that we had to wait.  I went to the checkpoint again on Sunday, 16 February, but Israeli soldiers prevented me from crossing the checkpoint.  Since that time, I have been waiting to be allowed to go back to al-Mawasi area.”

 

In her testimony to PCHR, H.Z., from al-Mawasi area of Khan Yunis, said:

 

“I live with my 11-member family in al-Mawasi area.  At approximately 09:00 on Saturday, 15 February 2003, I went out of the area through al-Tuffah checkpoint to buy our needs and visit relatives.  I spent the night in Khan Yunis.  At approximately 06:00 on Sunday, 16 February 2003, I went to the checkpoint to go back home.  I had waited with other people for several hours, but Israeli soldiers prevented us from crossing the checkpoint.   We have waited for fourth consecutive days, but have not been allowed to enter the area.”

 

PCHR has reported on the inhumane measures and policies adopted by Israeli occupying forces against Palestinians living in the al-Mawasi area since the beginning of the Intifada on 29 September 2000.  These measures have included imposing curfews, closing the area for long periods, issuing identity cards and magnetic cards for adult residents of the area,[1] and attacking houses and property.  

 

·              Wadi al-Salqa Village

 

Wadi al-Salqa village is one of the areas in the Gaza Strip that has been subject to serious violations of human rights by Israeli occupying forces, due in large part to the close proximity of the  “Kfar Darom” settlement adjacent to the area.  In this regard, Palestinian villagers in the area pay a very high price for the security of Israeli settlers traveling on “Kissufim” road (86), branch of Salah al-Din Street, which passes through the village.  Israeli occupying forces have razed large areas of Palestinian agricultural land on both sides of the road and have denied access of Palestinian farmers to their agricultural lands.  Israeli occupying forces often encroach into the village, destroy houses and raze areas of agricultural land as part of “security measures.” 

 

Wadi al-Salqa village is located southeast of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.  It is located between Salah al-Din Street to the west and the Israeli border to the east, and between Deir al-Balah to the north and Street 86 to the south.  The village is surrounded by Israeli settlements; “Kfar Darom” in the north and west and “Kissufim” in the southeast.  Its population is 5,000, including 2,524 males and 2,476 females, constituting about 500 families.  There are 650 housing units in the village.  Its local council was established in 1967, and now 8 people work in it.  The council has conducted 11 projects to improve the infrastructure of the village.

  

Since January 2002, Israeli occupying forces have imposed a night curfew on Wadi al-Salqa village, from 18:00 to 07:00.  Residents of the these areas have been denied their right to free movement at night, including access to hospitals and medical centers outside these areas.  Israeli occupying forces have also closed the main road leading to the village. 

 

Head of the local village council, Yousef Abu al-‘Ajin, stated that movement of residents of the village has been restricted as Israeli soldiers often take positions at the main entrance of the village and restrict movement of the villagers in and out of the village.   Since the beginning of the Intifada, Israeli occupying forces have denied access of Palestinian farmers to their agricultural lands located near the border of Israel.  As a consequence, levels of unemployment in the village have sharply increased since more than 70% of the population depend on agriculture work for their income.  Israeli soldiers fire at farmers who attempt to work their agricultural lands near the border.  A number of farmers have been killed in this manner.  Palestinian farmers who have agricultural lands in al-Qarara village, which is located south of the “Kissufim” road, have to travel to Deir al-Balah, then to Khan Yunis and from there to their agricultural lands in al-Qarara village.  When Salah al-Din Street between Deir al-Balah and Khan Yunis is closed, they cannot reach their agricultural lands, despite that these lands are very close to their homes.

 

Israeli occupying forces often open fire at houses in the area.  Since the beginning of the Intifada, Israeli occupying forces have demolished many houses and razed large areas of agricultural land in the village.

 

·              Al-Sayafa Area in the Northern Gaza Strip

 

Israeli occupying forces have been working on the establishment of an electronic fence surrounding the Israeli settlements of “Dogit,” “Elli Sinai” and “Nissanit” since October 2000.  The fence extends from the seashore in the west to the Erez area in the east.  It is approximately 9km long.  The fence consists of a 50-centimeter-high wall, above which barbwire has been put with a height of 2.5m.  Israeli occupying forces have established 10-meter-wide gates every 500-1000m along the fence.  They have also established a road, 50-90m wide, and observation towers.  To establish this fence, Israeli occupying forces have annexed approximately 3,245 donums[2] of Palestinian agricultural land.  All Palestinian crops on this land have been razed.  Israeli occupying forces have also destroyed 52 wells and a number of houses and buildings in the northern Gaza Strip.  In March 2003, Israeli occupying forces established a new military location, approximately 1200m south of the “Elli Sinai” settlement.  They built a cement block structure on a 3-donum area of land overlooking the Sayafa area where snipers and machine guns are positioned.  

 

Thirty Palestinian families living in al-Sayafa area between “Dogit” and “Elli Sinai” settlements face extreme difficulties in moving into and out of the area due to Israeli military measures, which include:

 

 

In his testimony to PCHR, S. K. said:

 

“I live with my 11-member family in a 200-square-meter house in al-Sayafa area in the north of Beit Lahia, east of “Dogit” settlement. There are approximately 30 other houses in the area, where approximately 200 people live.  Recently, Israeli occupying forces have raided and searched our houses, which are isolated between ‘Dogit’ and ‘Elli Sinai’ settlements by the separating fence.  At approximately 08:30 on Friday, 17 January 2003, while I was sitting in front of my house, a military jeep, a tank and a bulldozer of Israeli occupying forces arrived in the area.  An Israeli officer ordered me to take the cars that were parked near my house out of the area.  There were 5 cars near my house, one of which is mine, while the others are owned by people from the area who have not allowed to drive them into the area.  I told him that I cannot.  He told me that the area would be closed and if the cars were not taken out they would be blocked inside.  Approximately an hour later, the bulldozer started to establish a sand barrier, 500m long and 3m high, approximately 100m east of ‘Dogit’ settlement.  They remained in the area until 14:00.  I phoned mayor Mousa al-Ghoula, who in turn phoned the Israeli military officer of the area.  The mayor told me that the closure of the area was postponed to the following Sunday and that they would leave a hole in the barrier to allow movement of people.  However, at approximately 12:00 on Saturday, a military jeep, a tank and a bulldozer of Israeli occupying forces arrived at the area.  An Israeli officer ordered me to take the cars out of the area, but I couldn’t as the cars were not mine.  Then, the bulldozer closed the hole in the barrier.”

 

 

 

 

2)          Denial of Health Rights

 

Israeli occupying forces have violated the international instruments relevant to the right of health.  Over the period covered by this report, they obstructed the passage of ambulances, which were transporting the wounded and other patients, through military checkpoints and border crossings.        

 

In her testimony to PCHR, A. L. said:

 

“On Wednesday morning, 12 February 2003, I got out of al-Mawasi area through al-Tuffah military checkpoint and traveled towards Khan Yunis, together with my three children, including Ahmed, 3, who was suffering from bronchial asthma.  We went to al-Amal Hospital of the Palestine Red Crescent Society, where Ahmed received medical treatment.  When we traveled back to al-Mawasi area, Israeli soldiers at al-Tuffah checkpoint prevented our passage.  They threatened to punish me if I did not go back to Khan Yunis.  My children and I spent the night at a mosque. During the following days, the same happened and we were not able to enter the area.”

 

In his testimony to PCHR, A. M. said:

 

“On 23 November 2002, I traveled to Egypt through Rafah border crossing to undergo a surgery in the tendons of the left knee.  My wife accompanied me.  On 11 December 2002, I underwent the surgery in Palestine Hospital in Cairo.  At approximately 17:00 on Saturday, 21 December 2002, I arrived at the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing on my way back to the Gaza Strip.  There were 400-600 people waiting there.  I was not able to cross towards the Gaza Strip on that day and in the following two days.  During that period I was not able to sleep as there was no place to sleep.  The weather was cold and rainy, which increased the pain in my knee.  I was finally able to cross towards the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, 24 December 2002.”

 

On 2 January 2003, Israeli occupying prevented Shahinaz Khaled Siam, 31, from al-Mawasi area of Rafah, who was in labor, from crossing Tal al-Sultan checkpoint, west of Rafah, to get to the hospital.  According to her husband, she had waited for 4 hours, but Israeli soldiers prevented her from crossing towards Rafah.  She gave birth near the checkpoint.  The husband added that his wife was in very bad condition, especially as the weather was very cold.  There are no hospitals in al-Mawasi area, so its residents are forced to go to clinics in Rafah.  The area has been under a strict Israeli military siege since the beginning of the Intifada. 

 

On 5 January 2003, Israeli soldiers at al-Tuffah checkpoint at the entrance of al-Mawasi area, west of Khan Yunis, beat the director of the Medicines Sans Frontiers in the Gaza Strip, when he raised a sign of his organization to coordinate his and other physicians’ entry into al-Mawasi area. 

 

According to PCHR’s investigation, director of Medicines Sans Frontiers and three other physicians arrived at al-Tuffah checkpoint, west of Khan Yunis, where dozens of Palestinian were waiting to be allowed to go back to their homes in al-Mawasi area.  He got out of his car, raised a sign of his organization and walked towards Israeli soldiers.  Immediately, three Israeli soldiers surrounded, pulled and beat him.  They took the sign and his bag and moved him into a room.  He remained there for two hours.  Then, he and the other physician left the area towards Gaza city.  He intended to negotiate the entry of health workers  into the area.

 

On 19 February 2003, Israeli occupying forces invaded the northern Gaza Strip town of Jabalya and al-Shojaeya neighborhood in Gaza city, denying access of ambulances to the wounded.  According to sources of the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Israeli forces fired at ambulance, which had made several attempts to attend to the wounded in the streets, but all of these attempts failed due to intense Israeli shelling and gunfire.

 

On 20 February 2003, Israeli occupying forces denied passage of an ambulance that was attempting to evacuate two Palestinian patients: Mousa Salem al-Masri, 60; and Ahmed Hamdan, 40, from Nasser Hospital to an Israeli hospital, although their evacuation was coordinated with these forces in advance.  Al- Masri was suffering from a brain clot and was in serious condition, while Hamdan was suffering from  kidney failure.  According to an official source of the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Israeli occupying forces obstructed the passage of the ambulance through al-Matahen and Abu Houli checkpoints, north of Khan Yunis, and Netzarim checkpoint on the coastal road, southeast of Gaza city.  Israeli tanks on the coastal road fired at the ambulance and forced it to travel back to the south. 

 

In violation of basic human rights and moral values, on Monday, 17 March 2003, Israeli occupying forces obstructed delivery of the body of Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist who was run over by an Israeli military bulldozer, while she was attempting to stop the demolition of a Palestinian house in Rafah. 

 

PCHR’s field worker in Rafah reported that at approximately 15:30, an ambulance of the Palestinian Ministry of Health evacuated Corrie’s body to Sofa crossing, north east of Rafah, as the body was expected to be transferred to Israel upon a request by the US embassy.  Corrie was run over by an Israeli military bulldozer in al-Salam neighborhood in Rafah on Sunday evening, 16 March 2003, when she attempted to stop Israeli military bulldozers from demolishing a Palestinian house.  Three of Corrie’s colleagues were traveling in the ambulance.  Israeli occupying forced prevented the passage of the ambulance through the crossing.  At approximately 18:30, the ambulance was forced to travel back to Martyr Mohammed Yousef al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah.  Then, contacts took place between the Palestinian liaison and their Israeli counterparts, which resulted in allowing the entry of the Corrie’s body through Sofa crossing at 20:20.  The body was taken from the Palestinian ambulance to an Israeli one.

 

3)          Denial of the Right of Education

 

The total siege imposed on the OPT by Israeli occupying forces since the beginning of the current Intifada has deprived Palestinians of their right of education, in violation of articles 13 and 14 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  As a result of the Israeli decision on 16 January 2003 prohibiting travel of Palestinians between 16 and 35 years old abroad, many students have not been able to attend their universities in other countries.  

 

Israeli occupying forces attempt to impose conditions on Palestinian students from the Gaza Strip, who are under 35 and wish to travel abroad.  According to these conditions, these students are not allowed to come back to the Gaza Strip for a period that amounts to two years.  A number of such deals were mediated by embassies of countries Palestinian students wished to travel to.  The number Palestinian students who have had to conform to these conditions in order to study abroad is estimated at 6. 

 

Palestinian students and teachers have suffered from Israeli restrictions on movement at Abu Houli and al-Matahen military checkpoints on Salah al-Din Street in the Gaza Strip.  A Palestinian university student described to PCHR his suffering while traveling to his university in Gaza city and back to the southern Gaza Strip by saying:

 

“I live in Khan Yunis.  I study law at al-Azhar University.  At approximately 16:00 on Wednesday, 19 March 2003, after I had finished classes, I traveled in a taxi towards Khan Yunis.  When I arrived at Abu Houli checkpoint, south of Deir al-Balah, it was closed and cars and people were waiting in a very long queue.  I got out of the taxi and walked until I got closer to the checkpoint.  I had waited for hours.  Israeli soldiers were searching a number of cars.  I decided to go back to Gaza city.  In the following morning, I was able to travel back to Khan Yunis.  In fact, we face daily restrictions at the Israeli checkpoints, which have obstructed our educational process.  Many of my friends have rented flats in Gaza city to be able to attend classes on a regular basis, but I have not been able to do the same due to the financial crisis my family faces.”

 

A Palestinian teacher described his experiences at Israeli military checkpoints by saying:

 

“I live in Khan Yunis.  I teach geography at a public school in Gaza city.  At approximately 13:00 on Wednesday, 26 March 2003, I arrived at Abu Houli checkpoint, south of Deir al-Balah on my way back home.  The checkpoint was closed and many cars were waiting.  I saw Israeli soldiers repairing a tank.  People were waiting in very bad weather conditions.  The checkpoint was reopened at approximately 18:30, and I was able to travel back home.  We face daily restrictions at Israeli military checkpoints.  I go out home at 06:00 every day to be able to attend classes on time.  If Israeli soldiers obstruct our passage, I will reach my school exhausted.  This negatively impacts my ability to teach.”

 

4)          Continued Prevention of Visitation of Palestinian Prisoners

 

Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have been deprived of family visits as a consequence of the total siege imposed on the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  Israeli occupation authorities have also canceled the visitation program organized by the ICRC.  This has had a negative psychological effect on the prisoners, exacerbating their inhuman conditions of detention.  The number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails has sharply increased and it is difficult to give their exact number now due to the continued Israeli large scale arrests that take place in the West Bank, but the number is estimated at thousands. Due to the closure, Gazan lawyers cannot visit Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. 

 

5)          Denial of the Right of Free Worship

 

Under the current total Israeli siege imposed on the OPT, Palestinians have been denied access to holy sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.  Israeli occupying authorities also denied travel of a number of pilgrims from traveling to Saudi Arabia.  Rafah border crossing is the only travel outlet for pilgrims from the Gaza Strip, as Gaza International Airport has been closed since 6 February 2001.  Pilgrims travel first to al-‘Arish in Egypt through Rafah border crossing and from there they travel to Saudi Arabia. 

 

In 2003, approximately 6,000 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip registered for pilgrimage.  Israeli occupying authorities prevented approximately 1,600 of them from traveling under security claims or because they are of the category of age denied travel by Israeli authorities (16-35).

 

Israeli occupying authorities issued lists of names of Palestinians who would be prevented from traveling to Saudi Arabia, and they also prevented other pilgrims from traveling whose names were not on the these lists.  Israeli occupying authorities also prevented some members of families of Palestinians who were killed in the al-Aqsa Intifada from traveling through the Rafah crossing.  Palestinian pilgrims from the Gaza Strip began to travel through Rafah border crossing on 24 January 2003. 

 

 

  

 

 

The following table shows the number of pilgrims who were either allowed to, or prevented from traveling to Saudi Arabia in 2003:

 

Date

Number of those allowed to travel

Number of those prevented for security claims

Number of those prevented for they are under 35

Total

24 January

300

12

50

362

25 January

323

20

25

368

26 January

450

55

22

527

27 January

950

72

62

1,084

28 January

1,051

97

0

1,148

29 January

936

59

0

995

4 February

326

0

26

352

6 February

0

171

0

171

7 February

106

290

0

396

Total

4,442

776

185

5,403

 

6)          Continued Restrictions on Fishing

 

Israeli occupying forces have imposed restrictions on fishing since the beginning of the Intifada, as part of the policies of collective punishment adopted by these forces against the Palestinian people.  Over the period covered by this report, Israeli occupying forces imposed a marine siege on the Gaza Strip on several occasions.  They imposed a marine siege on Gaza city and the central Gaza Strip from 17 January to 23 February 2003, and from 16 to 26 April 2003.  Israeli occupying forces have also imposed a marine siege on Khan Yunis since the beginning of the Intifada, while the marine siege imposed on Rafah has been partially lifted.    These measures have severely affected the number of fish available on the local market, thus dealing a severe blow to the fishing industry and the families who depend on it.  Following is a summary of marine closures imposed on the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the Intifada:

 

1.    The number of days of marine closure on Gaza city and the central Gaza Strip until 26 April 2003 was 132.

2.    Gaza city and the central Gaza Strip have been under a partial marine siege, as Palestinian fishermen are allowed to fish up to 6 miles only into the sea (under the Oslo accords, they are supposed to be able to fish up to 20 miles into the sea). 

3.   Khan Yunis and Rafah had been under a total marine siege from the beginning of the Intifada until the end of December 2002. 

 

 

 

  

The following table shows dates of the marine siege imposed on Gaza and Deir al-Balah in the current Intifada:

 

No.

Dates

Periods of closure

1.        

1 November 2000 – 12 March 2001

40 days

2.        

14 April 2001

1 day

3.        

28 April – 3 May 2001

6 days

4.        

16 May 2001

1 day

5.        

2-13 June 2001

12 days

6.        

22 June 2001

1 day

7.        

26 June 2001

1 day

8.        

March 2002

1 day

9.        

23 November – 17 December 2002

25 days

10.    

17 January – 23 February 2003

34 days

11.    

16-26 April 2003

10

Total

132 days

 

 

7)          Denial of the Right to Work

 

Israeli occupying forces have closed Erez crossing since the beginning of the Intifada.  Since 3 June 2002, they have allowed a limited number of Palestinian workers from the Gaza Strip to reach work places in Israel through the crossing.  The crossing was totally closed for 3 days in January 2003, for 5 days in February 2003 and from 16 to 23 March 2003.

 

The following table shows the number of Palestinian workers in Israel and Erez industrial zone and days of closure (31 December 2002 – 23 March 2003):

 

 

Date

Industrial zone

Israel

Date

Industrial zone

Israel

31/12/2002

3,100

7,700

10/02/2003

2,552

5,152

01/01/2003

3,631

11,566

13/02/2003

330

Closed

02/01/2003

3,652

11,206

14/02/2003

515

Closed

03/01/2002

777

13,031

15/02/2003

1,443

Closed

04/01/2003

1,581

198

16/02/2003

3,518

Closed

05/01/2003

3,520

11,024

17/02/2003

3,613

Closed

06/01/2003

3,344

10,274

18/02/2003

3,717

6,085

07/01/2003

3,211

7,493

19/02/2003

3,527

8,473

08/01/2003

3,623

8,834

20/02/2003

3,362

8,200

09/01/2003

3,272

8,758

21/02/2003

 

5,269

10/01/2003

713

5,596

22/02/2003

1,837

367

11/01/2003

1,562

326

23/02/2003

3,140

10,138

12/01/2003

3,505

8,913

24/02/2003

3,517

9,198

13/01/2003

3,620

9,330

25/02/2003

3,347

6,565

14/01/2003

3,517

8,450

26/02/2003

3,304

5,443

15/01/2003

5,670

8,470

27/02/2003

3,734

7,392

16/01/2003

3,702

8,790

28/02/2003

1,197

6,410

17/01/2003

1,200

5,110

01/03/2003

360

1,909

18/01/2003

1,052

360

02/03/2003

3,815

9,642

19/01/2003

9,514

9,572

03/03/2003

3,189

8,844

20/01/2003

3,644

9,531

04/03/2003

3,189

8,844

21/01/2003

3,461

6,464

05/03/2003

3,823

10,551

22/01/2003

3,691

8,849

06/03/2003

216

811

23/01/2003

3,504

8,718

07/03/2003

2,220

4,931

24/01/2003

777

5,776

08/03/2003

1,717

437

25/01/2003

1,485

366

09/03/2003

3,407

10,141

26/01/2003

797

Closed

10/03/2003

3,848

10,791

27/01/2003

2,598

Closed

11/03/2003

3,694

10,863

28/01/2003

2,928

Closed

12/03/2003

3,770

10,350

29/01/2003

3,690

2,092

13/03/2003

3,872

10,404

30/01/2003

3,612

8,740

14/03/2003

1,109

7,467

31/01/2003

1,126

6,485

15/03/2003

2,043

376

01/02/2003

1,781

427

16/03/2003

3,935

Closed

02/02/2003

3,676

9,744

17/03/2003

3,400

Closed

03/02/2003

3,690

5,359

18/03/2003

3,774

Closed

04/02/2003

3,871

9,324

19/03/2003

3,893

Closed

05/02/2003

3,690

8,337

20/03/2003

3,293

Closed

06/02/2003

3,671

9,141

21/03/2003

707

Closed

07/02/2003

1,340

6,326

22/03/2003

1,600

Closed

08/02/2003

1,904

408

23/03/2003

3.721

5,381

09/02/2003

3,442

8,987

 

 

 

 

On Wednesday, 22 January 2003, Israeli occupying forces prevented Palestinian workers working in the “Gush Qatif” settlement block from crossing Tal al-Sultan military checkpoint, west of Rafah, towards their work places.  Approximately 6000 Palestinian workers from Rafah, Khan Yunis and Deir al-Balah work in the “Gush Qatif” settlement block, which stand on lands of al-Mawasi area. 

 

Suffering of Palestinian Workers at “Erez” (Beit Hanoun) Crossing

 

Workers from the Gaza Strip traveling to their work places in Israel face complicated measures by Israeli occupying forces, which constitute a form of humiliation and inhuman treatment.  Workers have to leave their houses early in the morning, and when they reach “Erez” crossing, they have to walk into an 800-meter-long narrow path, which gets narrower when it gets closer to the end.  When workers reach the gate of the crossing, they are distributed into 24 narrow paths, pending checks and searches, which usually take long periods of time, so many workers are forced to go back to thier homes.  Workers are not allowed to carry anything other than food, which must be put in a transparent plastic bag.  After the checks, workers have to walk long distances to reach vehicles that transport them to their work places.  On the way back home, workers are subjected to the same procedures, as a result they do not arrive home until late in the evening. 

 

Under the current total siege, workers of the Gaza Strip have been denied access to their work places both in Israel and inside the Gaza Strip, in violation of the right of work, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966, whose Article 6 provides that “the States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of every one to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right.”

 

The Palestinian economy has been dependent on the Israeli economy due to the destructive economic policies adopted by Israeli occupation authorities.  The Palestinian economy basically depends on the income generated by Palestinian labor in Israel. This dependence has been created, in part, by Israeli occupying forces which have destroyed many Palestinian factories and workshops and razed large areas of Palestinian agricultural land.  As a consequence, many Palestinian workers have lost their jobs, and the Palestinian economy has further deteriorated.

 

8)          Further Deterioration of the Palestinian Economy

 

From 16 to 25 April 2003, Israeli occupying forces imposed a comprehensive siege on the OPT as an allegedly preemptive security measure on the occasion of the Jewish Easter.  They closed all border crossings of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and imposed a strict marine siege on the Gaza Strip.  Since the beginning of the Intifada, Israeli occupying forces have closed most border crossings and outlets and imposed complicated, cumbersome procedures at al-Mentar (Karni) and Sofa Crossings, causing further deterioration of Palestinian economic activities.

 

·              Al-Mentar (Karni) Crossing

 

Al-Mentar (Karni) crossing, one of the major commercial outlets of the Gaza Strip, has been frequently closed by Israeli occupying forces since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada.  In response to an armed attack carried out by a member of ‘Ezziddin al-Qassam Brigade, the military wing of Hamas, on 15 April 2003 at the crossing, Israeli occupying forces closed the crossing from 16 to 25 April 2003.  When the crossing was reopened, Israeli occupying forces escalated security measures.  According to Salim Abu Safiya, Director-General of border crossings at the Palestinian Authority, Israeli occupying forces put more cement blocks and pieces of barbwire at the crossing and substituted observations cameras with more developed ones.  Since then, the crossing has operated at 10% of the capacity it had operated at before 15 April 2003.  Only 3 checking rooms out of 29 have been operating.  As a consequence, the Palestinian economy has sustained further losses estimated at US$ 10 million, according to Abu Safiya.  About 700 trucks loaded with various products have been blocked at the crossing pending permission to pass.  Agricultural products have decayed, and 80% of the other products are likely to decay if their passage is not allowed. 

 

·              Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing

 

Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing is located northwest of the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun.  The crossing serves three purposes: transportation of goods; safe passage of Palestinians moving from and into the Gaza Strip; and entrance of Palestinian workers into Israel.  Israeli occupying forces have kept the crossing closed since 8 October 2000, thus denying entry of approximately 120 Palestinian trucks.  Consequently, Palestinian traders have suffered large losses as their goods were blocked in Israeli harbors.  Only a limited number of Palestinian workers are allowed entry into Israel.

 

Over the period under study, Israeli occupying forces completely closed the crossing from 26 to 29 January 2003, from 13 to 18 February 2003, from 16 to 23 March 2003 and from 16 to 25 April 2003.  Under these closures, approximately 10,000 Palestinian workers were not allowed to reach their work places in Israel.

 

·              Gaza International Airport

 

Israeli occupying forces have maintained the closure of Gaza International Airport since Wednesday, 14 February 2001, causing large losses for Palestinian traders and for the Palestinian Airlines.

 

·              Rafah Commercial Border Crossing

 

Rafah commercial border crossing is located at the Egyptian border, south of Rafah.  Goods from and into the Gaza Strip are transported through it.  Medical and food assistance offered to the Palestinian people enter into the Gaza Strip through the crossing.  Israeli occupying forces closed the crossing from 1 to 22 April 2003.  When it was reopened, they allowed entry of foodstuffs and about 40 ambulances that had been blocked at the Egyptian side of the crossing.  When it is open, procedures at the crossing are very slow.  Only 6 trucks are allowed to transport imported goods, such as cement, clothes and foodstuffs.  Many Palestinian traders have not been allowed to transport their imported goods, and medical and food assistance offered to the Palestinian people has been blocked at the crossing.   

  

·              Sofa Crossing

 

Sofa crossing is located at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, northeast of Rafah.  Aggregate is entered into the Gaza Strip through the crossing.  In addition, approximately 330 Palestinian workers travel to their work places in Israel through the crossing.  Since the beginning of the Intifada, Israeli occupying forces have instated complicated and slow procedures at the crossing.  The crossing works from 04:30 to 06:00 and from 14:00 to 17:00, during which Palestinian workers are allowed to cross towards and back from their work places in Israel.  Israeli trucks transport aggregate from Israel to the crossing between 07:00 to 16:00, as Palestinian trucks transporting aggregate are prevented from entering the crossing and are substituted by Israeli trucks.  Palestinian trucks transport aggregate from the crossing to the Gaza Strip between 16:00 and 20:00.  The amount of aggregate allowed entry into the Gaza Strip is 600-700 tons daily, out of 15,000-20,000 tons daily before the Intifada.

 

Over the period covered by this report, Israeli occupying forces closed the crossing on a number of occasions.  The crossing was closed on Sunday, 26 January 2003, the date of the Israeli elections.  Consequently, 330 Palestinian workers were denied access to their work places in Israel.  On Tuesday, 28 January 2003, Israeli occupying forces denied entry of aggregate into the Gaza Strip.  This closure remained until Wednesday, 29 January 2003. 

 

On Monday, 10 February 2003, Israeli occupying forces closed the crossing again.  On Monday, 17 January 2003, Israeli occupying forces allowed entry of aggregate through the crossing, and on the following day, Palestinian workers were allowed access to their work places through the crossing. 

 

On Sunday, 16 March 2003, Israeli occupying forces closed the crossing.  It was reopened for workers on the following day and for the entry of aggregate two days later. 

 

Israeli occupying forces have totally closed the crossing since Wednesday, 16 April 2003, denying access of Palestinian workers to their work places in Israel and entry of aggregate into the Gaza Strip. 

 

Impacts of Closure on the Palestinian Economy

 

The Palestinian economy has further deteriorated due to continuous Israeli closure of crossings.  Economic transactions largely depend on the freedom of movement. 

 

Levels of unemployment and poverty in the OPT have increased sharply.  According a report recently published by the World Bank, overall gross national income losses reached US$ 5.2 billion after 27 months of the Intifada.  The report added that The Palestinian Authority's fiscal position remains precarious.  As a result of rising unemployment, reduced demand, and the withholding by the government of Israel of taxes collected on the Palestinian Authority's behalf, monthly revenues fell from some US$ 91 million in late 2000 to just US$ 18 million by end-2002.  The report indicated that a collapse of the Palestinian Authority has been averted by emergency budget support from donor countries, which averaged US$39 million per month through 2002.

 

According to the World Bank’s report, the economic crisis has seriously compromised household welfare.  Many families have endured long periods without work or income, and despite the various employment generation efforts of the Palestinian Authority, donors and NGOs, many now depend on food aid for their daily survival.  Coping with the situation has meant selling assets, borrowing from families, neighbors and shopkeepers and cutting consumption, including food.  Using a poverty line of US$2.1 per day, the World Bank estimated that 21 percent of the Palestinian population were poor on the eve of the intifada, a number that increased to about 60 percent by December 2002.  More than 75 percent of the population of the Gaza Strip are now below this line.  Widespread poverty has caused the health conditions of the Palestinian population to dramatically deteriorate.  Real per capita food consumption has dropped by up to a quarter when compared to 1998 levels.  A recent survey found that global acute malnutrition,  protein-calorie malnutrition in 9.3 percent of the children across the West Bank and Gaza (13.3 percent in Gaza and 4.3 percent in the West Bank).

 

The World Bank has urged donors to do what they can to support the Palestinian Authority budget in 2003, and thereby to ensure that adequate basic public services can be provided.  According to the World Bank’s report, the proximate cause of the Palestinian economic crisis is closure, i.e. restrictions imposed by the government of Israel on the movement of Palestinian goods and people across borders and within the West Bank and Gaza

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

Israeli occupying forces have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT.  Under the siege, the suffering of the Palestinian people continues.  The Gaza Strip has been transformed into a series of detention centers of sorts.  Living conditions in the OPT have deteriorated on all levels, and the economic, social and cultural rights of Palestinians have been violated.

 

The policy of collective punishment adopted by the Israeli occupation forces against the Palestinian people is internationally prohibited, and it contradicts internationally accepted human rights standards and international humanitarian law.

 

PCHR calls for a lift of the total siege imposed on the OPT and for an end to the policy of harsh restrictions adopted by the Israeli occupation forces against the Palestinian people.

 

The current situation in the occupied Palestinian territories is the most serious it has been since they were occupied by the Israeli occupation forces on June 5, 1967.  PCHR calls for:  

 

1.            Pressuring Israel to lift the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, and to stop its aggression against the Palestinian people and their property.

2.            Providing immediate medical and humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people whose living conditions have been increasingly deteriorating under the siege.

3.            Activating mechanisms of immediate intervention by the UN and its agencies, and ICRC, to ensure the access of medical and food assistance to the occupied Palestinian territories under the siege.

4.            Obligating Israel to respect international conventions and to comply with the UN Resolutions, especially 242 and 338, which call for a complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories in 1967.

        5.            Taking effective steps by the EU, under Article 2 of the Euro-Israel Association Agreement, which provides that Israel must respect human rights.

6.            Prosecuting Israeli leaders for the war crimes they commit against the Palestinian people.

 

 

 

“End”


 

 

 “1) All people have the right of self determination.  By virtue of this right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. 

“2) All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law.  In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.”

Article 1, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1996)

 

“No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.”

Article 17, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)

 

“1) Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence.

“2) Everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own.”

Article 12, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)

 

“No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed.  Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.  Pillage is prohibited.  Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.”

Article 33, the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (1949)

 

“Each High Contracting Party shall allow the free passage of all consignments of medical and hospital stores and objects necessary for religious worship intended only for civilians of another High Contracting Party, even if the latter is its adversary.  It shall likewise permit the free passage of all consignments of essential foodstuffs, clothing and tonics intended for children under fifteen, expectant mothers and maternity cases.”

Article 23, the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (1949)

 

“1) The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of every one to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right.”

Article 6, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)

 

“1) The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

“2) The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include: …

d- the creation of conditions which could assure to all medical service and  medical attention in the event of sickness.”

Article 12, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)

 

“1) The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to education.  They agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.”  

Article 13, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)

 


 


[1] Israeli occupying forces have imposed a numeration system, under which identity cards of adult residents of al-Mawasi area are given numbers.  Those who do not have numbers on their identity cards are not able to enter the area.  Israeli occupying forces have also issued magnetic cards for these residents.  These measures have deprived many people from entering the area. 

[2] 1 donum equals 1000 square meters.