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A SPECIAL REPORT ON ISRAEL’S RESTRICTIONS ON PALESTINIAN RIGHT OF MOVEMENT AT RAFAH CROSSING, GAZA, 8 February 2003

08-02-2003 00:00

INTRODUCTION Since its occupation of the Palestinian Occupied Territories (OPT)- in the aftermath of Israel's Six-Day-War in 1967- Israel has systematically violated the human rights of the Palestinian population of these territories, breaching its obligations under international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
In 1993 the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Government of Israel signed the Oslo Agreement, which required that Israel redeploy [move out from city centers, but remain near settlements and other â€کstrategic, locations] its forces in the OPT.
Israel pulled out from the major towns and refugee camps, but kept its control over the majority of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
In addition, Israel's control of borders, crossing points, and other areas, continued.
A final-status was due to be reached within five years after the signing of the agreement.
Palestinians hoped that the negotiations would lead them to an independent state in the OPT.
However the negotiations took much longer than this and hope for the desired result began to diminish.
It was widely believed among Palestinians that Israel was not serious and rather was trying to extend its period of control in the OPT.
Meanwhile, the economic and social conditions in the Palestinian territories were deteriorated as the rates of unemployment and poverty increased, particularly in the densely-populated Gaza Strip.
On 28 September 2000, Ariel Sharon, the leader of Israeli opposition then, visited the Al Aqsa Mosque, the most important Islamic site in the OPT.
Palestinians protested in Jerusalem and within the next day Israeli forces killed five Palestinians at the Mosque.
Palestinian protests increased in the following days, which began the Al Aqsa Intifada (uprising).
Israel's violations increased to a great extent and the crimes committed by the IOF became more frequent and ruthless.
The IOF used a variety of collective punishment procedures to deter Palestinians.
For twenty-eight months the OPT was under a comprehensive siege restricting people's movement and making daily life very difficult.
Systematically the army destroyed homes, uprooted trees and bulldozed agricultural land.
Educational, religious and economic establishments were also, wantonly, targeted.
Worse than that, tens of thousands of Palestinians were killed or wounded due to the excessive and lethal force used against them.
Israel has systematically been violating Palestinians human rights since its occupation of the OPT.
Nevertheless, its crimes against Palestinian civilians and their property increased since the outbreak of the Al Aqsa Intifada.
As a result of various collective punishment procedures taken by the IOF in twenty-eight months of the Intifada, tens of thousands of Palestinians were killed and wounded.
The IOF demolished thousands of homes, razed large areas of cultivated land, and destroyed and ruined water wells.
In addition, a comprehensive siege was imposed, both around and inside the OPT, since 9 October 2000, affecting all aspects of civilian life.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights reported the outrageous impacts of the siege and closure imposed on the Palestinian territories in previous reports.
This report aims to draw more attention to the suffering of Palestinian civilians as a result of the procedures employed by Israel at the Rafah Crossing Point (RCP); the only outlet to the outside world in the Gaza Strip, and which is subject to frequent Israeli closures.
The report was developed in the light of the substantial documentation of Israeli procedures in the Crossing Point by Al Mezan.
It provides a general background on the Gaza Strip in terms of location, population and border crossing points.

Tags / #civil and political

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