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Israel 'blocking access' of rights workers to Gaza

The Gaza Strip is under complete Israeli siege [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 April, 2017

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Israeli forces are denying rights workers access into the Gaza Strip, according to a new Human Rights Watch report published on Monday.
Human rights workers are being blocked from accessing Gazan territories by Israel’s military, according to a Human Rights Watch report published on Monday.

The 47 page report entitled ‘Unwilling or Unable: Israeli Restrictions on Travel to and from Gaza for Human Rights Workers,’ stipulates that Israeli forces systematically prohibit individuals from entering or exiting the blockaded city, despite a lack of security concerns.  

“The travel restrictions call into question the Israeli military authorities’ claim to rely on human rights organisations as an important source of information for their criminal investigations into potential serious crimes committed during the 2014 Gaza war,” a Human Rights Watch statement read.

“Impeding the work of human rights groups raises questions not just about the willingness of Israel’s military authorities to conduct genuine investigations, but also their ability to do so,” it added.

“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 said, referring to the International Criminal Court.

On Friday, a UN political agency suspended its missions to Gaza on Friday after Hamas authorities partly sealed the key border crossing into Israel to investigate the murder of an official in the blockaded city.

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process [UNSCO] said it would not send staff to Gaza until further notice, a source close to the Hamas organisation told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Around half a dozen international aid workers have been prevented from leaving in recent days, a senior humanitarian source said.

So far, according to the World Health Organisation, 79 Gazan patients have missed medical appointments in Israel because of the restrictions.

More than two thirds of Gazans are dependent on aid, according to the United Nations.

Israel has maintained a blockade on Gaza for a decade, largely restricting residents from entering.

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