Chapter Six



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 Israel’s control and occupation of these areas, and their strict and absolute dependency on Israel.

Israel’s 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.

Israel’s 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.


  1. The Palestinian Centre emphasises that Israel’s 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.


  1. 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.

  2. Military Order No. 1 1967.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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).

  7. 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).

  8. 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 conflict.

  9. Proposed by its Minister of Defence, Moshe Dayan.

  1. See infra at Chapter Three for detailed discussion on Israel’s violations of the provisions of the Interim Agreements.

  1. 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.

  2. See supra page 4.

  1. Stephanie Nolen, Likud Plays Closure Card, Palestine Report, August 2, 1996, p. 16.

  1. 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)

  2. Linda Bevis, Zuhair Sabbagh, An Ailing System: Israeli Military Government Health Insurance in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Al-Haq, 1993, pp. 10-11.

  3. Cairo Agreement Annex II, Article II: 18; and see also Taba Agreement, Annex III, Appendix 1, Article 17(1)

  4. Ibid, Barghouti

  5. See PHR-Israel in interview with Human Rights Watch, Tel Aviv 19th March 1996, at page 34 Israel’s Closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Human Rights Watch/Middle East, Vol.8, No.3(E), July 1996.

  1. 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.

39 See Closure Update No. 8 pages 3 and 4 on consequences of delays and refusals to grant permits.

  1. 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.

  2. Birzeit University Newsletter, No. 26, New Report on Gaza Students Shows Continuing Violation of Academic Freedoms, August 1995.

  3. High Toll of Human Rights Violations Continue, Birzeit Human Rights Record: A Report on Human Rights at Birzeit University, No.14, June 1994-March 1995

  4. 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.

  5. Nigel Parr, Making Education Illegal-Students from the Gaza Strip : Israeli Restrictions and International Reactions, Birzeit University Human Rights Action Project, January 1995.

  6. See Closure Update No. 5.

  1. See Closure Updates Nos. 7, 8, 9, 11

  1. For example see Closure Update No.7, page 4.

  2. 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.

  3. Thus provisions of the Interim Agreements which diminish a right guaranteed to the Palestinian people by the IV Geneva Convention, are inadmissible.

  4. Article V Declaration of Principles

  5. 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”

  6. Article V: 3 (b) of the Cairo Agreement.

  7. A.64, IV Geneva Convention

  8. A.47, IV Geneva Convention

  9. See Pictet page 272 and page 367.

  10. See Pictet page 335

  11. See Pictet page 337

  12. Ibid

  1. 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.

  1. Adopted by consensus, therefore supported by the international community, and arguably now customary international law.

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