HRW report exposes restrictions to Gaza access for human rights workers 

Last week Human Rights Watch issued a new report on Israel’s tight restrictions on the movement of human rights workers in and out of Gaza. This includes the entry of investigators from international organisations such as HRW and Amnesty International as well as groups from Israel and the West Bank.

The restrictions clearly curtail their ability to “identify, research and advocate against human rights and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) abuses” and “go far beyond what is permitted by international humanitarian law and human rights law” according to the report.

Given the limitations to Israel’s own domestic investigations into suspected breaches of IHL, including during the 2014 military offensive on Gaza, HRW asks the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to consider how these restrictions “may reflect on the ability and willingness of the authorities to conduct genuine proceedings”.

The report also criticises Egypt and the Hamas authorities for their own restrictions on movement in and out of Gaza.

Humanitarian workers have faced similar restrictions from the Israeli authorities. As documented by the World Health Organisation for the three months from November 2016 to January 2017, 42 requests were made for humanitarian health workers entering/exiting Gaza through Erez and only 21 requests, exactly half, were approved. 

Restrictions on freedom of movement also undermine the safety of medical patients from Gaza, who often struggle to access permits to travel out for treatment in the West Bank - including East Jerusalem - or abroad.

In February, MAP launched the first in our series of briefings on the impact of the occupation on health. This first chapter focused on the physical and bureaucratic barriers to the accessibility of healthcare imposed by checkpoints and Israel's permit regime.

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