Although Al-Karama Border Crossing is Open, the Israeli Closure Policy is Ongoing
The Israeli authorities allowed the opening of al-Karama border crossing with Jordan around the clock, excluding Fridays and Saturdays. The Israeli authorities claimed that this step falls within the facilitations declared on the movement of the West Bank’s population. This step is part of the strict measures and restrictions imposed internally on the movement of West Bank’s population, that amount to the degrading treatment and obliging them to wait for prolonged hours at the Israeli military checkpoints. The step further coincides with the worst forms of the Israeli closure imposed on Gaza Strip for the eleventh consecutive year, isolating two million Palestinians in an area of 365 square kilometers and denying them the freedom of movement to the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem and travelling abroad.
According to Nazmi Muhanna, General Director of the Palestinian Crossings and Borders Authority, Al Karama border crossing with Jordan will be opened for 24 hours, from Tuesday morning, 20 June 2017 to 10 September 2017, all the week except Friday and Saturday until 10:30. On the other hand, the Israeli forces continued to impose arbitrary restrictions on the movement the civilians living in occupied West Bank and have intensified them since the beginning of 2016, through which the Israeli authorities have institutionalized the collective punishment policy and cruel and degrading treatment. The Israeli forces imposed tightened restrictions on the Palestinian civilians’ movement between the West Bank cities, violating their right to freedom of movement on a large scale as part of the collective punishment policy against them.
The new announcement about the facilitations at al-Karama crossing is Israel’s policy of deception. The internal movement of civilians living in the West Bank has become almost impossible due to around 472 checkpoints permanently established in the West bank, including 39 ones established along the 1975’s border- green line and considered as border crossings between the West Bank and Israel. Moreover, the Israeli authorities separate Jerusalem from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to deprive the residents of the natural connection within the geographical unity. The Israeli forces also impose the apartheid policy against Palestinian civilian when using the public roads as they ban them from using several roads and allow only the settlers to use them. This increases the suffering of Palestinians who are forced to use long and non-paved roads.
This announcement coincides with the ongoing comprehensive closure policy imposed on around 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as the Israeli authorities isolate and deprive them of the freedom of movement to the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, and abroad. While 2 million persons are able to travel abroad via al-Karama crossing, only 26431 persons were able to travel via Rafah crossing point with Egypt in light of the ongoing Israeli closure of Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing in front of Gaza Strip civilians’ movement, excluding only few hundreds of cases to travel abroad as humanitarian cases.
The illegal and inhumane closure policy is considered as a form of the collective punishment prohibited by the International humanitarian law, particularly the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Article 33 of the latter Convention prohibits the Israeli forces from punishing any person for an offence he or she has not personally committed. It also prohibits reprisals against protected persons and their property. The Israeli forces impose the comprehensive closure policy as a reprisal against the Palestinian civilians through imposing the policy of isolation and closing the roads. As a result, the individuals’ movement within the national territory or abroad is banned, violating civilians’ rights to the freedom of movement. According to the law, the Israeli authorities should fully respect the abovementioned rules and so end all forms of the unjust closure, which was recognized as a crime against humanity.