REF: 1/2013

 

 

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is closely following the
statements made by the Israeli authorities concerning significant facilities on
the closure imposed on the civilians in the Gaza Strip, for more than six
years.  PCHR calls upon the Israeli
authorities to first of all lift this unjust closure completely, as it is a
form of collective punishment prohibited under the international humanitarian law,
and second to discontinue all the unjust restrictions imposed on the movement
of civilians and thirdly allow the free movement of trade; including imports
and exports to and from the Gaza Strip.


 

On 31 December 2012, Major General Etan Dankot, Operations
Coordinator in the Occupied Territories, stated to the Israeli Radio that
Israel would allow the entry of raw construction materials, passenger buses, and
trucks, and improve the capacity of electric power on the Israeli electricity
networks destined for the Gaza Strip for the first time since the closure was
imposed on the Gaza Strip.

 

In the light of experience of the past years, PCHR emphasizes that
such facilities are mysterious and deceptive as the new allegations about this have
not allowed the entry of all needed materials for the Gaza Strip. These
facilities have not determined the amount of raw materials and the number of
buses and trucks which will be allowed in. 
The allegations have neither mentioned any kind of change concerning
exports from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank and other countries or their nature.  Moreover, such facilities are provided for
the very first time.  PCHR believes that these
statements are consistently aimed at institutionalizing the closure and to
create an international environment for acceptance of the essence of this
policy.  PCHR believes also that the
primary key in dealing with the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip should begin
by acknowledging that this policy is illegal, and falls under the policy of
collective punishment imposed on the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.

 

These statements, which talk about partially lifting the closure or
trying to beautify this policy within the framework of the humanitarian perspective,
is a clear violation of the international humanitarian law, including the 1949
Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of
Civilian Persons in the Time of War. What is truly required, is the
lifting of the unjust closure completely that will allow the free movement of
both persons and goods. The limited procedures of easing the closure, declared
by Israeli Authorities, will not end the suffering of the civilians in the Gaza
Strip who have borne the consequences of the unjust closure for 6 successive
years as they do not address the essence of the crisis.  Therefore, the closure must be completely and
immediately lifted and a radical change should be made in the Israeli policies
to end the severe crisis facing Gaza.  The
Israeli Authorities continue to allow the entry of certain limited goods while
they keep on imposing restrictions on the entry of other goods, including the
raw materials.  As a result, the
situation of the Gaza Strip will continue to deteriorate and no real change
will happen in the economic and social conditions of the Gaza population.

 

The ongoing ban on imports of Gaza, including industrial and
agricultural products, limits the possibility of reviving the Gaza Strip
economy which has been continuously deteriorating due to this ban.  The Israeli policies and recent allegations
of easing the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip is an attempt to
institutionalize the closure and its success implies the Israeli manipulations
of international law, including the international humanitarian law and human rights
law.

 

Over the past 6 years, the international community has failed to
enforce the international humanitarian law and human rights law.  This stigmatizes the High Contacting Parties
of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention which have failed to take practical
measures in accordance with their legal obligations to force the Israeli authorities
to respect the Convention and stop all their policies that violate economic,
social, and cultural rights of the Palestinians as well as their civil and
political rights.

 

The best approach to end the devastating consequences caused by the
Israeli policies against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip is not
represented by the Israeli declaration of alleged facilities or by lifting the
blockade partially; rather, by immediately declaring an end of it completely.