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From the field

HR Groups: Forbidden to further restrict entry of goods into Gaza

On the same day that shocking testimonies of the army's acts in Gaza are published, human rights organizations appealed to decision-makers:
Additional restrictions on the movement of goods into Gaza - a continuation of Israel's immoral Gaza policy

  • Any decision further reducing the transfer of goods into Gaza will cause harm to hundreds of thousands of innocent people.
  • Tightening the strangulation of Gaza to try to enhance Israel's political bargaining tools - forbidden and wrong.
  • Israel continues to restrict movement of goods even after bringing about a severe humanitarian crisis during its military operation.
  • It is Israel's responsibility to address the needs of the population in Gaza.

Thursday, March 19, 2009 - Following the decision to establish a ministerial committee to examine future steps to promote efforts to release Shalit, eight human rights organizations demanded that Prime Minister Olmert, the justice minister, defense minister and the attorney general refrain from adopting proposed measures that punish the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip by further restricting the transfer of goods. The ministerial committee was charged with considering further restrictions on the passage of goods into Gaza.

In a letter written by Attorney Tamar Feldman of Gisha - Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, the organizations argue that: "the sole and proclaimed purpose of these measures is pressuring Hamas to promote the release of soldier Gilad Shalit. The return of Shalit to his family and home is a worthwhile goal, however Israel using its control of the crossings to tighten the strangulation of the Gaza Strip as a means of increasing its political bargaining power is strictly prohibited by international law."

In addition, the organizations indicate that the Gaza Strip is already in an extremely difficult humanitarian situation as Israel's complete closure of Gaza for the past 21 months has severely impacted the ability of the people of Gaza to engage in meaningful commerce and trade: "The war that broke out on the December 27, 2008 brought death and destruction of vast proportions, and the closure policy, still in effect since the end of the operation, has not allowed for reconstruction or recovery... any further reduction of the goods allowed to be transferred into the Gaza Strip will undoubtedly inflict further and severe harm to innocent children, women and men who are still grieving the loss of their loved ones and are struggling not just to survive but to live".

The organizations who signed the letter are: Gisha, Adalah, Association for Civil Rights in Israel, B'Tselem, Hamoked, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Yesh Din/>/>/>/>/>/>