Human Rights Watch says Israel blocking access to Gaza

Human Rights Watch says Israel blocking access to Gaza

GAZA, Palestinian Territory — An international 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.

In a 47-page report, Human Rights Watch accused Israel of “systematically” preventing its researchers from visiting Gaza since 2008, only granting them one exceptional permit last year. The group also said that Egypt has prevented it and London-based Amnesty International from entering Gaza from its territory since 2012.

Israel and Egypt have imposed a blockade on Gaza, home to nearly 2 million people, since the militant Hamas group took over the territory in 2007. Israel and Hamas, an Islamic group sworn to Israel’s destruction, have fought three wars since then.

International rights groups have accused both sides of committing war crimes, while the International Criminal Court is conducting a preliminary investigation into possible wrongdoing by both sides.

Israel has long accused Human Rights Watch of being unfairly biased against it. Last month, Israel refused to grant a work permit to the New York group’s regional director, though it later allowed him to visit the country as a tourist.

Human Rights Watch said the Israeli restrictions cast doubt on the government’s claims that it is conducting its own investigations and there is no need for the ICC to get involved.

“If Israel wants the ICC prosecutor to take seriously its argument that its criminal investigations are adequate, a good first step would be to allow human rights researchers to bring relevant information to light,” said Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

The report also criticized Egypt for barring access to Gaza, and for Hamas’ refusal to co-operate with investigators. It said Hamas has failed to protect local human rights workers from retribution and sometimes arrested or harassed its critics.

The absence of foreign rights investigators, who are less susceptible to Hamas pressure, limits the ability of Palestinian rights groups from documenting abuses by Hamas, the report said.

The three parties “should change their policies to protect the vital work of human rights groups seeking to protect Palestinians and Israelis from abuses by the authorities and armed groups,” Bashi said.

Cogat, the Israeli defence body that co-ordinates access to Gaza, denied barring rights groups from visiting the enclave.

It said in a statement that it allows over 1,000 people to cross through the border each day for a variety of purposes, including business, medical treatment and academic studies, and said all criteria are in line with security needs.

“We co-ordinate the crossing of many human rights organizations,” it said, naming the group “Doctors Without Borders” as an example. The statement made no mention of Human Rights Watch or Amnesty.

Cogat accused Hamas of trying to exploit Gaza civilians travelling through Israel for military purposes, “causing a constant tension between the will to help the civilian Gaza residents and our duty to protect the citizens of Israel.”

Fares Akram, The Associated Press

Just Posted

UPDATE: Barb Desjardins clinches another win, will serve fourth term as Esquimalt mayor

Three new councillors will join three veterans at Esquimalt Township council

EDITORIAL: Voters across Greater Victoria embrace progressive ideas, new course in regional governance

Election results also reveal regional fissure between core and outer communities

B.C. Guide dogs is looking for volunteer puppy raisers

Labrador retrievers need to learn obedience and socialization before heading to work

Voters in Saanich and Victoria support creation of citizens’ assembly on amalgamation

Group will continue to keep pressure on Victoria and Saanich councils after amalgamation referendum

Victoria and Saanich voters elect to move ahead with amalgamation talks

Victoria and Saanich voters have chosen to move ahead with exploring amalgamation… Continue reading

UPDATE: Lisa Helps re-elected as mayor of Victoria

Nine people were seeking the mayor’s seat for the City of Victoria and 29 candidates hoped to be chosen for council

POLL: Do you support amalgamation for communities in the Capital Region?

Residents in Victoria and Saanich will be voting on Oct. 20 on… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for Oct. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. Youtuber to seal himself ‘in a jar’ to demonstrate impacts of climate change

Kurtis Baute wants to see how long he can last in a 1,000 cubic foot, air-tight greenhouse

One of Taiwan’s fastest trains derails, killing at least 18

The train was carrying more than 360 people

Scheer marks one-year countdown to federal election with campaign-style speech

Conservative Leader insists that it will be Justin Trudeau who ‘makes it personal’

B.C. VIEWS: Residents have had enough of catering to squatters

Media myth of homeless victims offends those who know better

B.C. man sets new Canadian marathon record at Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Cam Levins ran it in two hours nine minutes 25 seconds

B.C. Liberals’ hopes high as Nanaimo by-election approaches

Historically safe NDP seat vacated by long-time MLA Leonard Krog

Most Read