As the shuttering of the Gaza Strip enters its sixth year, Al Mezan takes the occasion to again condemn Israel’s illegal policy of closure, which obstructs access to healthcare, education, and other basic necessities.
This policy deprives the population of Gaza of their rights to an adequate standard of living, freedom of movement, safety, and bodily integrity.
Israel justifies this policy by framing it as “economic warfare” against an enemy government in Gaza; international law clearly bans such practices as collective punishment of a civilian population.
The closure policy takes multiple forms, with compound negative effecst on the Gazan population.
The blanket ban on student travel from Gaza to the West Bank, imposed since 2000, deprives students of the ability to freely choose their field of study and pursue their education.
The ban is part of a larger policy of fragmentation of the occupied Palestinian territory and is aimed at weakening the unified national character of the Palestinian people.
In combination with the policies of settlement expansion and village isolation in the West Bank, the Gaza closure is directed to the overall goal of rendering Palestinian self-determination impossible.
Free travel between the West Bank and Gaza was guaranteed under the Oslo Accords, which plainly and repeatedly recognized the unitary nature of the occupied Palestinian territory.
The right to health is seriously degraded by the restrictions imposed on movement of Gazan patients.
Al Mezan implores the international community to take action to immediately lift the border restrictions on medical travel and to abolish the arbitrary referral system currently in place.
Israel’s security apparatus must be held accountable for the consequences of the present system.
Israel’s policy of maritime closure violates the rights of Gazan fishermen to life, work, and safety.
Al Mezan considers Israel’s unilateral definition of a “fishing zone,” the ongoing maritime siege, and the prevention of work in the areas of the sea most plentiful in fish as a collective punishment on the Gazan population.
Al Mezan calls upon the international community to intervene to lift the illegal siege and guarantee to Gazan fishermen their right to work in peace.
Lastly, Al Mezan notes that the “easing” of the closure over the past two years has not meaningfully improved the standard of living in Gaza.
As long as the general policy remains in place, Palestinian civilians, a majority of whom are children and youths, will continue to suffer, and the rights guaranteed to them under international and humanitarian law will continue to be trampled.