Released @ 11.00 hours GMT 31 July 1997

Israeli Closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip Tightened

Yesterday afternoon, July 30, Israeli authorities tightened the closure imposed on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The tightening of the closure occurred after two suicide bombings in West Jerusalem yesterday afternoon. The identities of the perpetrators are unknown at this point.

Through the new closure measures, Israel imposed a comprehensive ban on the movement of goods and individuals. It was announced yesterday that the partial and limited measures enacted by the Israeli authorities gradually easing the ongoing closure in the past few months were canceled. An additional closure was announced in the West Bank, where interior movement between West Bank cities is being denied.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has followed closely the deterioration of the Palestinian territories in general, and the Gaza Strip in particular. In the forthcoming few days, the Centre will publish its Special Update on Closure, issue number 19. The Update will monitor and document the effects of Israeli closure on the human rights situation, as well as the destructive implications of the closure on all aspects of life in the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, the Centre reiterates both its position against the imposition of collective punishment by the government of Israel against the Palestinian people and its belief that the security justification for the closure claimed by the government of Israel has no basis in fact. The Centre also takes the position that this kind of collective punishment never has and never will contribute to the security of the state of Israel for the following reasons:

First, that suicide bombing operations against Israelis, including yesterday’s bombings, were carried out in spite of the closures imposed on the West Bank and Gaza Strip by Israel. It is evident that the perpetrators of yesterday’s operation did not have the permits to travel to Israel, but managed to find a way in regardless.

Second, that hundreds of Palestinian citizens are being arrested by Israeli forces on a monthly basis for their infiltration into Israeli territory without permits for the sake of work. If these ordinary citizens are able to penetrate Israeli checkpoints and borders for the sake of making a living, it is naive to believe that an individual who has decided to carry out a suicide operation would be deterred by the checkpoints and restrictions placed on the freedom of movement.

Once again, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights believes the government of Israel should reconsider its policy of closure, and tackle the real causes behind the deterioration of the security situation in the area. Such causes include especially Israel’s provocative policies carried out against the Palestinian people, including the policy of settlement building and expansion in the Occupied Territories, which lead to the deadlock in negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis.