Preface

Closures have been imposed to varying degrees since the beginning of the occupation in 1996 closures, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights established a Closure Monitoring Team which has monitored and reported on the effects of these closures in regulars reports entitled closure Update. These Updates have been published and widely distributed in both English and Arabic throughout the world and at governmental and non-governmental levels. They illustrate the consequential damage that these closures have had on all levels of Palestinian life in the Gaza Strip.

This report aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of Israel’s closure policy. By placing it within legal, political, socio-economic and historical contexts, it is our objective to promote greater public comprehension of the complex situation which exists in the Gaza Strip specifically, and in the Occupied Territories generally. The focus of the report is on the Gaza Strip, as this is where the concentration of the Palestinian Centre's work lies. This does not in any way imply that we regard the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem as separate entities.

The information contained in this report is based on that which has been gathered by the Palestinian Centre's Closure Monitoring Team and covers the duration of the closure since February 1996. It provides a legal, economic and humanitarian evaluation of the closure and examines Israel's obligations towards Palestinians residing in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem in respect of international humanitarian and human rights law and the Interim Agreements.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights is a non-governmental, non-profit-making, independent legal organisation. It was established in April 1995 by a group of lawyers and human rights activists in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Centre has a dual agenda. The first is in relation to the continuing Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip which remains in a legal and physical form. In this regard we seek to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights in accordance with internationally-accepted standards. The second is in relation to the development of democratic civil society in the Palestinian areas which the Interim Agreements placed under autonomous rule. In this regard the Centre has a very active and crucial role to play in support of institutions which are democratic, transparent and accountable. Our objective is the development of a democratic civil society in which the rule of law is respected and enforced in accordance with internationally-accepted standards of human rights.

The Palestinian Centre seeks the achievement of these goals through the following mechanisms: the research of human rights issues relating to Palestinians and international law; monitoring, documenting and disseminating reports on the human rights situation in the Gaza Strip; and the provision of legal aid to individuals and groups. In addition the Centre has established, and is in the process of developing, a library specialising in human rights, legal and regional issues. The library is accessible for academics and students for research in these areas.

This report is based on an original Arabic version.

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