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: