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Al Mezan Issues Report on “The Reality of the Right to Movement and Travel in the Gaza Strip”

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24 December 2016 |Reference 92/2016


  • -- Since the beginning of 2010, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested 24 patients, 16 patients’ escorts, and summoned 2,222 patients for security interviews;
  • -- Since the beginning of 2010, IOF arrested 48 businessmen and withdrew 449 permits from businessmen in 2015 and 2016.
  • -- Since the beginning of 2016, 301 students lost their opportunities to study abroad due to denial of permits to travel by the Israeli authorities.
  • -- International community and civil society must improve coordination, coordinate discourse and work together to end the collective punishment of the civilian population under Israeli control and occupation in the Gaza Strip.


 On Saturday, 24 December 2016, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Al Mezan) issued a report entitled “The Reality of the Right to Movement and Travel in the Gaza Strip”. The report aims at highlighting the reality and implications of Israel's denial of movement and access, particularly for patients, business people, and students. The report sheds the light on the Israeli violations of the right to movement and access. It gives a brief legal background on some relevant provisions of International Human Rights Law (IHRL) and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and summarizes the impacts of the Israeli 10-year-old closure's restrictions on the movement of people in the Gaza Strip, particularly the suffering of Palestinian patients, businessmen, and students at Erez crossing.


The report concludes with some results, top of them are the following:


The IOF prevents Palestinian patients from their right to movement and travel and access to hospitals. Patients who seek medical treatment that is not available in the Gaza Strip have to leave the Gaza Strip through Erez crossing, which is under total control of the IOF. Ten patients died at hospitals in the West Bank and East Jerusalem due to the Israeli delay to their timely access to the hospitals. The Israeli authorities use the crossings as traps, exploiting the Palestinian need to travel in order to receive life-saving treatment. The Israeli authorities coerce patients even when they had the necessary permits from Israel to pass through the Erez crossing. According to Al Mezan’s monitoring and documentation, the IOF arrested 34 patients at Erez crossing and arrested 16 patients’ escorts and summoned 2,222 patients for interview in the past six years.


For more information about the treatment of patients in need of access to hospitals, consult Al Mezan's documentary "Under Security Check".


The Israeli security authorities impose restrictions on persons accompanying patients in relation to their age, date of submitting the permit requests, and security checks. These procedures stall the issuance of permits and hinder patients' access to hospitals timely.


Palestinian students are also deprived from their right to movement and travel. Israel continues to impose a blanket ban on all Gaza students' access to Palestinian universities in the West Bank. Students who enroll at universities abroad and need to travel to start their education apply for security permits to travel via Erez crossing. They are however unable to access to their right to education due to Israeli delays in processing and responding to their requests for permits. During 2016, 301 students have lost their opportunities to study abroad due to Israeli delays. Students are also subject to detention and humiliation at Erez crossing. They are summoned for interviews by Israeli security forces and are subject to coercion. 


Palestinian business people living in Gaza Strip also face difficulties when they travel via Erez crossing for business purposes. The Israeli authorities impose restrictions on their travel and prevent them from their right to movement and travel. In the last two years, the Israeli authorities withdrew 449 permits from businessmen who had been granted permits following security checks. 130 businessmen and 30 companies were also prevented from importing goods to Gaza. Moreover, the Israeli authorities arrested 48 businessmen during the last six years.


The report ends with the following recommendations:


  • -- Call on the international community to promptly intervene to end the Israeli collective punishment imposed on the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza by lifting the Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip, which deprives them from enjoying their basic rights and contributes in increasing poverty and unemployment;
  • -- Call on the international community and the UN to exert pressure on Israel to respect the IHRL and IHL provisions related to the right to movement and access, and the rights to life, education, and health, and to ensure protection of civilians and accountability for violations against them;
  • -- The protection of the geographical unity of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) without Israeli interference; especially to allow for Palestinian patients and students to access Palestinian universities and hospitals, as well as securing access to family life and work all through the oPt.
  • -- Civil society should engage and improve the coordination and terminology concerning the Israeli closure/blockade of the Gaza Strip, and speak in one voice against the closure and its implications on the life and the wellbeing of the civilian population. The closure is a blatant form of collective punishment that must be lifted altogether, and Israel must abide by its legal obligations vis-à-vis the civilian population under its control and occupation.
  • -- Improving the documentation of the closure mechanisms and its implication based on data provided by the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee, which deals with all permit requests, while also reaching people on the ground to track whether their right to movement and access was respected and whether they were treated with dignity.