Israel is blocking access to Gaza, Human Rights Watch says

Violet Powell
April 5, 2017

An global human rights group on Monday accused Israel of barring foreign researchers from entering the Gaza Strip to document abuses, saying the restrictions call into question Israel's stated commitment to investigating possible rights violations.

Human Rights Watch recommends the International Criminal Court open an investigation into "potential serious crimes committed in Palestine since June 2014". HRW has also denounced Egypt for closing the Rafah security checkpoint and Hamas for preventing people from entering or leaving for a week. As for the Egyptian border, worldwide agencies including HRW and Amnesty global have not been allowed to cross it since 2012.

The Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry on Saturday night announced it was taking "increased measures" against collaborators with Israel in Gaza, as a part of a investigation into the assassination of Mazen Fukaha.

They said the coastal enclave, which is ruled by Islamic Hamas movement and has been under a tight Israeli blockade for ten years, is suffering severe humanitarian crises which must stop with better life ensured for the population. "Aid from the worldwide community remains a lifeline for 1.1 million people in Gaza, and one in four children in Gaza are in need of psychosocial support", said Jenkins.

In 2014, Israel launched a devastating 51-day military onslaught on Gaza in which more than 2,300 Palestinians were killed and thousands injured.

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Moreover, HRW charges Hamas do not adequately protect human rights workers from retribution, and in some cases arrest and harass those who criticize Hamas or the activities of armed groups in Gaza. Until the travel ban is canceled, the authorities should add human rights workers to those eligible for travel permits.

HRW has called on Israeli authorities to end the generalised travel ban and allow access to and from Gaza for all Palestinians.

"Neither Human Rights Watch nor Amnesty International has been able to get staff into Gaza via Egypt since 2012", HRW said.

Under Israel's restrictive policy, only a very limited number of people and goods are allowed in and out of Gaza.

After the killing, Hamas set up military-style checkpoints throughout Gaza, prevented fishermen from going out to sea and barred all residents and foreign aid workers from leaving the coastal strip.

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