CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Israel continues to be the Occupying Power of the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem, which retains the status of occupied territories. The closures starkly illustrate the extent to which Israel has maintained control of these areas, despite the limited re-deployment of its troops. The IV Geneva Convention remains applicable, and the Palestinian people continue to be entitled to its protection. This is the situation, despite the existence of the Interim Agreements, which do not provide adequately for the protection of the human rights of the Palestinian people, and moreover de facto and de jure maintain Israels control and occupation of these areas, and their strict and absolute dependency on Israel.
Israels closures imposed by Israel in 1996 are inherently illegal as they constitute collective punishment and reprisals, which taken against civilians are absolutely prohibited by the IV Geneva Convention and by principles of international law. The effects of these closures have been devastating and violate international standards of human nights. Israel persistently seeks to justify the closures on the basis of national security. However, the documented facts and the reality of life for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories invalidate these claims, highlighting the illegality of such measures because they are disproportionate, ineffective and not just directed at the objective of security, moreover such concerns cannot supplant the human rights of the Palestinian people.
Israels policy of closure is an integral part of its strategy to separate the Occupied Territories from each other and to isolate East Jerusalem. Israel continues to confiscate Palestinian land in order to develop illegal Settlements in the Occupied Territories. Thus maintaining strategically placed and often heavily fortified colonies of Israel inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the Gaza Strip, West Bank and encircling East Jerusalem.
In fact, what emerges is a picture of a systematic Israeli policy to diminish the capacity and potential of the Palestinian people to achieve self-determination by isolating the Occupied Territories from each other and the outside world, paralysing their economies and augmenting their dependency on Israel, in order to further the Zionist goal towards Greater Israel.
The bloody clashes of late September 1996 demonstrate the popular dissatisfaction in the Occupied Palestinian Territories with the peace process, that has so far has had little tangible benefit for Palestinians and much for Israel. This dissatisfaction is aggravated by Israel's contumacious attitude, and is reaching a dangerous level.
i. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights believes that the closure must be lifted entirely. Israels right to take security precautions is acknowledged, but these must be in accordance with internationally accepted standards of human rights law. Israel should continue to work towards the implementation of regularised and efficient security procedures to ensure the safety of the Israeli people, without jeopardising Palestinian political and economic development.
The Palestinian Centre emphasises that Israels imposition of the very restrictive closures are illegal and should not be tolerated by the international community. Closures, even if imposed for one or two days, have a devastating impact on Palestinian economy, and would appear to serve no purpose other than to punish the grievances for by the Interim Agreements, and closure should no longer be used as a political tactic by Israel.
iii. The Palestinian Centre stresses that efforts to raise the living standards of the Palestinian population must be accompanied by policies aimed at encouraging the development of a healthy Palestinian economy, capable of independent and sustainable growth. Economic Integration is not in itself objectionable, provided that the relationship between the two economies is equitable. Policies which aim to maintain the Palestinian economy in a state of dependency, or which seek to exploit Palestinian economy entirely for Israels own economic and political benefit, are not admissible, and demand the intervention of the international community.
iv. The Palestinian Centre calls upon the present Israeli Government to fulfil its obligation of safe passage, and t under the interim Agreements, including the implementation of safe passage, and the preservation of the territorial integrity of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, to cease t development of settlements including those which seek to further isolate El Jerusalem, and to continue negotiations with the PNA in good faith.
The Palestinian Centre demands that Israel fulfil its continuing obligations under the IV Geneva Convention. To this end it must no longer obstruct access to education and health, freedom of movement and the right to self-determination.
The Palestinian Centre advocates the achievement of a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace, in which the relationship between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples is based on equity, wherein the human rights of the Palestinian people are respected, and the two people interact in an atmosphere of mutual respect and dignity.
The Occupied Territories refers to the Palestinian land occupied by Israel in 1967, and includes the Gaza Strip and West Bank which includes East Jerusalem.
Military Order No. 1 1967.
The Green Line is the armistice line of 1949 that was drawn following the war which ensued following the Declaration of the State of Israel in Palestine in 1948.
These clashes were sparked by the opening of a tunnel by the Israeli Government authorities close to the foundations of the al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem.
The Interim Agreements effected the transfer of limited autonomy to the PNA in some towns and villages of the West Bank and in 60 percent of the Gaza Strip for a five year (Interim) period until a final status agreement is reached.
The norms referred to are those contained in the 1996 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (may be referred to as the ICCPR) and the 1966 International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (may be referred to as ICESCR).
The Interim Agreements include: the 1993 Declaration of Principles On Interim Self-Government Arrangements (Declaration of Principles), the 1994 Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Areas (Cairo Agreement), and the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (Taba Agreement).
The Interim Period is described in Article 1 of the Declaration of Principles a 5 year transitional period during which the PNA and Israel will negotiate the final settlement of the
Proposed by its Minister of Defence, Moshe Dayan.
10 This general closure, was implemented by Military Order No. 1 of 1967.
11 See A.V:3(b0 Cairo Agreement, and A IX Declaration of Principles.
12. See JMCC Water: The Red Line, May 1994
13 Special permits are required for Palestinians not resident in East Jerusalem to enter the city.
See infra at Chapter Three for detailed discussion on Israels violations of the provisions of the Interim Agreements.
15 See Closure Update No. I page 2
16 During the Gulf War Israel introduced severe restrictions on Palestinian labourers going to work in Israel: i) a new work-permit system was introduced, that required Palestinians working in Israel to obtain permits from the Israeli Government Labour Office; ii) Palestinians were required to list a specific place of work which was to be written on their permits; iii) Israeli employers were required to arrange transportation for their Palestinian workers, who were no longer allowed to travel in Israel unescorted.
Closures are the imposition of restrictions at the borders of the Occupied Territories, which are enforced by Israel's military forces and control movement of 'people and goods across them to varying degrees of severity.
- supra page 4.
20 Since Israeli troop redeployment in the Gaza Strip in May 1994 Israel has imposed over 300 days of strict closure on the Gaza Strip, and a general closure was otherwise the norm.
21 In March 1996 Residents of Al-Fawar Refugee Camp near Hebron were subjected to a 24 hour curfew for 11 days., during this time no supplies were allowed into the area. Two of the suicide bombers who carried out attacks in Israel in Spring 1996 came from Hebron.
22 Including: OC Central Commandant Major General Uzi Dayan, OC Southern Commandant Major General Shlomo Yanai, General Security Services director Ami Ayalon, and Co-ordinator of Government Activities in the Occupied Territories, Oren Shahor.
23 See Lift the Closure, Editorial, Jerusalem Post, July 3, 1996 and Liat Collins, Moledet: Closure Must Not Be Lifted, Jerusalem Post, July 1, 1996.
Stephanie Nolen, Likud Plays Closure Card, Palestine Report, August 2, 1996, p. 16.
25 In fact all States are under an international legal obligation to combat terrorism: See Corfu Channel Case, ICJ, 1949, reports, 22., Case Concerning US Diplomatic and Consular Staff in Teheran Hostages (US v Iran), 18 ILM 1464 and 1482 (1979), 74 AJIL 258 (1980); and General Assembly Resolution 80-85/16 (1985).
26 It is widely acknowledged that the massive arrest campaign of Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters executed by the PNA following the suicide attacks. was carried out under pressure from Israel.
27 See Closure Update No. 4. page 4.
28 See in particular Articles 14-23 and 59 of the Convention and infra at page 38 for legal analysis of Israels obligations in respect of these provisions.
29 Article 1 (3), Annex 1 of the Taba Agreement states that: 'Any security arrangements... will not undermine the moral and physical dignity of the Palestinian People. Article XIX of 'the Taba Agreement states that the Parties shall act "with due regard to internationally-accepted norms and principles of human rights and the rule of law".
30 Additional health services in the Occupied Territories were and continue to be provided by a combination of' UNRWA, non-governmental organisations and some private institutions.
Barghouti, M. Palestinian Health: Toward a Healthy Development Strategy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in Brown A., Heacock R., La Torre I, eds., Palestine Development for Peace: Proceedings of the ECCP Nengoot Conference 1992 (hereinafter Barghouti)
Linda Bevis, Zuhair Sabbagh, An Ailing System: Israeli Military Government Health Insurance in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Al-Haq, 1993, pp. 10-11.
Cairo Agreement Annex II, Article II: 18; and see also Taba Agreement, Annex III, Appendix 1, Article 17(1)
See PHR-Israel in interview with Human Rights Watch, Tel Aviv 19th March 1996, at page 34 Israels Closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Human Rights Watch/Middle East, Vol.8, No.3(E), July 1996.
36 PHR-Israel at page 31, Human Rights Watch/Middle East report, ibid at n.25
See PNA Ministry of Health, The Consequences of the closure on Access to essential Health Services in Palestine, Report No. 3, 14th March 1996, for a detailed list of deaths and of the denial of access to medical care for others in need of urgent medical attention after 11 days of closure.
38 See Closure Update No. 1, page 5 for an account of one of the clearest cases of deliberate Israeli obstruction which caused the death of Khadija Mohammad Odwan on 27th February 1996. See also Closure Updates 1, 2 & 3.
39 See Closure Update No. 8 pages 3 and 4 on consequences of delays and refusals to grant permits.
40 See Closure Update No. 13, page 2
41 See Closure Update No. 7.
42 PHR-Israel, Movement of Patients, Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 1, February 1996
43 From 1st April, the Israeli authorities began to issue exit permits to patients suffering from cancer and hears disease. Permits for patients suffering from other medical problems remained extremely difficult to obtain. See Closure Update, No. 5.
44 See infra Chapter Four for a detailed legal discussion of Israel's obligations in respect of the Convention.
45 See Closure Update No. 5. page 5.
46 Samir Abdallah Saleh The Effect of Israel's Occupation on the Economy of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in Jamal R. Nasser, Roger Heacock (Eds.), Intifada: Palestine at the Crossroads, Praeger NY 1990.
47 AI-Najah University, for example, was refused permission to develop a school of agriculture. (Abdallah, p. 40).
48 See infra at page 40 for legal discussion of these rights and obligations.
49 Article 4 of the Declaration of Principles and Article XI and Article I:2, Annex 1 of the Taba Agreement.
The information in this section relates to the problems faced by these students prior to the absolute closure imposed in Spring 1996. Since this time no Gaza student has been permitted to go to university in the West Bank.
Birzeit University Newsletter, No. 26, New Report on Gaza Students Shows Continuing Violation of Academic Freedoms, August 1995.
- Birzeit Human Rights Record: A Report on Human Rights at Birzeit University, No.14, June 1994-March 1995
High Toll of Human Rights Violations Continue,
Faced with constant obstruction and harassment from Israel, Gaza students established the Gaza Students Campaign to facilitate concerted effots to lobby in respect of access to their universities in the West Bank.
Nigel Parr, Making Education Illegal-Students from the Gaza Strip : Israeli Restrictions and International Reactions, Birzeit University Human Rights Action Project, January 1995.
See Closure Update No. 5.
The internal closure of the West Bank imposed following the suicide bombings in February and March 1996 prevented over 90 percent of Birzeit Universitys Students and staff from reaching the University. Eleven days of classes were missed as a result, and a number of international co-operation projects scheduled to take place at the university were cancelled. See A Report on Human Rights at Birzeit University August 1995- March 1996
57 Birzeit University Public Relations Office, One Tenth of our University is Missing, Mass Arrest of 280 Birzeit students on 28 March 1996, March 30, 1996.
58 See Sara Roy, The Gaza Strip: The Political Economy of De-development, Institute for Palestine Studies: Washington, DC, 1995. Roy describes de-development as an economic process specific to Israeli rule the deliberate, systematic deconstruction of an indigenous economy by a dominant power.
59 Sara Roy, Talk at the Centre for Policy Analysis on Palestine, Washington, D.C., May 15, 1996.
60 The UN Special Co-ordinator for the Occupied Territories put the PNA's projected deficit at 5 127 million.
61 Roy, Economic Deterioration in the Gaza Strip, Middle East Report, p. 37.
62 Between 1970 and 1987 the number of Gazans working iii Israel increased from 10 to 60 percent
63 Work permits are cancelled as soon as a closure is imposed
64 Only labourers who were over the age of 40 were eligible and new security restrictions were imposed at the border have reportedly took up to 3 hours, with the result that workers are too late to begin their day's work in Israel. See Closure Update No.6, page 2.
65 Under the absolute closures of February and September 1996 this minimum age requirement was raised to 40 and was raised to 45 at times.
66 See supra at pages 3 and 4 for figures and Closure Update No. 1, page 3 for table of figures of Gaza labourers permitted to enter Israel in 1995.
67 The closure imposed in Spring 1996 resisted in unemployment as high as 80 percent.
68 Jobs were to be created in rubbish collection, white washing, cleaning, "sidewalk rearranging," and gardening See UNSCO Ad Hoc Liaison Committee Report, West Bank- and Gaza Emergency Employment Generation Program under the Holst Fund April 12, 1996
69 Ibid UNSCO Report.
70 Ussama Dabbagh, Prospects for Trade in Palestine paper presented at conference entitled "The Palestinian Economy: Towards a Vision," held at Birzeit University June 9-10, 1996. A summary of the paper appeared in Palestine Economic Pulse, July-August 1996, (hereinafter Dabbagh)
71 Abdallah Saleh, pp. 47-8 in Nasser, Heacock.
72 Ibid Dabbagh
73 Israel then permitted only small amounts of imports to enter Gaza, while exports from Karni were blocked until 24th March, and then strict limits were imposed on the amount that could leave Gaza. See Closure Updates No. 3 page 3 and No. 14 page 2.
74 Abdallah Saleh p. 47, in Nasser, Heacock
75 Goods crossing the border between Israel and Gaza are unloaded from the exporting trucks at the checkpoints, checked, and then reloaded onto the importing vehicles for transport across the border. See Closure Update No.8
76 PECDAR Head Mohammed Ishteiyeh has called for an end to the back-to-back trading system, the proper functioning of the Gaza airport, and the free entry of Palestinian business people into Israel in order to meet their Israeli counterparts
77 See Closure Update No. 14. page 3.
78 UNSCO, Costs of Closure: Some Preliminary Indicators on Costs of Closure in the Gaza Strip, internal document, April 10, 1996.
79 See table of losses in Closure Update No. 3, page 5.
80 See Closure Update No. 5, page 3.
81 US Department of State, Gaza Trade Statistics show Impact of Closure, Unclassified Document, May 14, 1996.
82 There is no international port in the West Bank or Gaza Strip and Ben-Gurion airport is the only international airport in Israel and the only convenient international port for Palestinians wishing to travel out of the region.
83 Those over 30 must submit proof of valid visa, air ticket and proof of reason for travel. Gaza's mail service is unreliable, which makes visa applications very difficult. For example Gaza residents must obtain a permit to deliver and pick up the appropriate documents in person, or find a foreign national or Palestinian with a valid permit to deliver and pick up the documents on their behalf When permits are granted they are often not issued until the day before the specified date of travel leaving uncertainty, until the last minute.
84 See Closure Update Nos. 13 and 14.
85 Article IX, Declaration of Principles, and Article XI: I of the Taba Agreement
86 Article IX: 2, Annex 1
See Closure Updates Nos. 7, 8, 9, 11
88 There are currently between 3,500 and 4,00)0 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons.
89 See Closure Update No. 8, pp 4-5.
90 Even where permission is given by Israeli authorities f'or visits they are regularly re-scheduled and postponed.
Restrictions and conditions for visits are often changed and rearranged. See Closure Update No. 12.
91 See Closure Update No. 13 for comprehensive report on prison visits.
92 Annex III, Appendix 1, Article 32(2).
93 See Stephanie Nolan , Israelis Sabotage Eid,, Palestine Report, 23th February 1996.
94 See supra Chapter Four
95 This instrument may be referred to hereinafter as the IV Geneva Convention or Geneva Law. It effectively comprises two sets of laws: Humanitarian Law, which seeks to protect the human rights of the civilian population; and Occupiers Law which seeks to regulate and limit the activities of the Occupying Power.
96 The Israeli government signed the IV Geneva Convention in December 1949, and ratified it in January 1953.
97 Jean S. Pictet, Commentary: IV Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, International Committee of the Red Cross, 1958, Geneva; hereinafter referred to as Pictet.
98 See Pictet at page 18.
99 Israel has maintained full control of 40% of the land inside the Gaza Strip, which comprises Jewish settlements and military installations.
100 A five year period beginning from the date of Israeli re-deployment from the Gaza Strip and Jericho areas, which took place in May 1994, and is thus due to end in 1999.
For example see Closure Update No.7, page 4.
One important element of the Convention is that it has the accompanying guarantee that the ICRC monitors its application. The ICRC has not altered its mandate for the Interim Period, and regards the Convention as applicable.
Thus provisions of the Interim Agreements which diminish a right guaranteed to the Palestinian people by the IV Geneva Convention, are inadmissible.
Article V Declaration of Principles
Article 6 provides that in the case of occupied territory the application pf the Convention ceases one year after the general close of military operations
Article V: 3 (b) of the Cairo Agreement.
A.64, IV Geneva Convention
A.47, IV Geneva Convention
See Pictet page 272 and page 367.
See Pictet page 335
See Pictet page 337
113 Pictet, page 276
114 See supra at page 32.
The international human rights instrument referred to is the 1966 United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. There is no provision for derogation from the rights contained in the instrument in times of war or national emergency.
116 Article 27 of the IV Geneva Convention.
117 Article XIV of the Cairo Agreement and Article XIX of the Taba Agreement provide that Israel and the Council shall have only "due regard to international-accepted norms and principles of human rights and the rule of law. (Italics added)
118 Pictet, page 228
119 See supra page 10 on Israel's prevention of the import of basic foodstuffs to the Gaza Strip, and pages 14 to 15 on Israels obstruction of imports of urgent and necessary medical supplies.
120 Pictet, page 314
121 Ibid n. 1 19 on Israel's restrictions on Palestinian access to adequate health care inside and outside the Gaza Strip
123 See also the Fourth Preambular Considerandum of the 1962 Resolution on Permanent Sovereignity over Natural Resources.
124 See the Protocol on Economic Relations (Paris Agreement), Annex V, Taba Agreement
Adopted by consensus, therefore supported by the international community, and arguably now customary international law.
126 21331 (XX), UNGAOR, 20th Sess., suppl.14 (A/6220), 1965 pp11-12 (The Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention);, 1966 (XVIII), 16 Dec 1963, UNGAOR 18th sess., suppl. 15(A/5515), 1963, p.70 (Declaration Friendly Relations and Cooperation Among States);, 2214 (XXXIX) 14 December 1974 GAOR 29th Sess., suppl. 31, p. 142 (Definition of Aggression).
127 Article 1, IV Geneva Convention
128 Article 2(3) of the UN Charter
129 There are several Joint Liaison Committees for different spheres: Article X Declaration of Principles, and Article XXV of the Taba Agreement, Article XXIV of the Taba Agreement provides for Joint Palestinian-Israeli Liaison Committees; Article XXI of the Taba Agreement, and Article XV of the Declaration of Principles provide a forum for the settlement of disputes; Annex 1, Article III, Taba Agreement, provides arrangements for co-ordination and cooperation in mutual security matters. and establishes a Joint Security Co-ordination and Cooperation Committee, Joint Patrols, Joint Liaison Bureau and Joint Mobile Units.