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

TDCSS to end on-campus daycare service

NWCC committed to finding licenced provider to fill space

Terrace teen honoured at Commonwealth writing competition

Ariadna Sullivan among 12,000 entrants vying for top awards

VIDEO: Researchers rely on drones to survey aftermath of B.C. wildfires

UBC researchers are using aerial drones to study the historic 2017 wildfires in the province

Rent continues to rise in Prince Rupert, drops in Terrace

A report from Canadian Mortage and Housing Corporation shows the average rent has risen by $132

Cops targeting risky behaviour, auto crime

Holiday campagaigns aim to keep roads safe, valuables protected

Pool upgrade on budget, slightly behind

Completion is set for March 30, and opening will likely be late-April, early-May

‘The Last Jedi’ opens with $220M, 2nd best weekend all-time

As anticipated, the movie fell shy of the opening weekend for J.J. Abrams’ 2015 franchise reboot

2 couples tie the knot in Australia’s 1st same-sex weddings

West Australian couple Anne Sedgwick, Lyn Hawkins have been together for 40 years

B.C. concert promoter bans Nazi symbols at shows

A man was witnessed making a Nazi salute during a heavy metal show at Pub 340

EDITORIAL: Putting #MeToo to work in your workplace

Workers from top to bottom need to stand together against the bully of sexual harassment

Owl found dead after eating rat poison leaves B.C. woman concerned

After finding the owl on her Surrey property, Christine Trozzo says the poison is a concern for kids

Change to CPP death benefit panned as insufficient to cover funeral costs

Funeral Services Association of Canada lobbied governments to raise the value to $3,580

#MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of sexual harassment

B.C. workplaces are getting ahead of being the next MeToo debacle, calling on experts to train staff

B.C. woman brain injured in crash as a baby gets $1.1 million in damages

Trial heard the woman was 16 months old, being carried by her mother when they were both hit

Most Read