Access blocked: Israeli ban on rights groups hinders Gaza investigation

Israel denies violations in its conduct of the war and resisting a UN probe.


August 19, 2014

RAMALLAH:


Israeli restrictions have left two of the world’s most prominent human rights organisations struggling to collect evidence of potential war crimes in Gaza, group representatives have revealed.


Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) staff have not received permits to enter Gaza despite lobbying Israel and Egypt since the early days of the conflict, which began last month. They say the years-long Israeli ban on their international staff travelling to Gaza hinders their ability to investigate the violence. However, Israel says neither group has the correct paperwork needed to gain access to the Palestinian enclave.

Egypt’s foreign ministry did not immediately comment why its own border with Gaza was apparently closed to the organisations. The groups’ inability to put international researchers and munitions experts into Gaza comes as Israel denies violations in its conduct of the war and is resisting a UN investigation into the conflict, dismissing it as a “kangaroo court”.

“We’re doing everything we can, both Human Rights Watch and us, to do all the documentation we can, both on the ground in Gaza and remotely. But not being able to have researchers there does create difficulties,” said Amnesty worker Deborah Hyams.

Bill Van Esveld, an HRW Middle East researcher, said his group had two staff members in Gaza. “They’re overwhelmed. There’s so much to look into ... and physical evidence about the events there is disappearing as time goes by.”

The UN’s top human rights official last month said Israel appeared to be deliberately violating international law.

Israel denies the allegations, pointing to warnings it sent to civilians to flee certain areas and countering that militants aimed rockets at Israeli civilians and operated from residential areas – something the UN says also may constitute a war crime.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2014.

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COMMENTS (7)

Sexton Blake | 6 years ago | Reply

@Solomon2: Dear Solomon2 Perhaps the media where you belong neglected to mention that Palestine has lost over 430 children, 1,900 people are dead, 10,000 severely injured, and about 100,000 people are now homeless. All this was caused by the IDF routinely dropping 2,000 pound bombs, using illegal ordnance, which I will not go into, 155 mm howitzer shells and 120 mm flechette shells which burst into a shower of 5,000 metal darts designed to shred human flesh. Perhaps the UN was so busy looking into the dreadful results of Israeli genocide they did not have time to investigate the Hamas fire squibs, which are penny-ante stuff in comparison?

Solomon2 | 6 years ago | Reply

"Egypt’s foreign ministry did not immediately comment why its own border with Gaza was apparently closed to the organisations. The groups’ inability to put international researchers and munitions experts into Gaza comes as Israel denies violations in its conduct of the war and is resisting a UN investigation into the conflict, dismissing it as a “kangaroo court”."

Israel's "kangaroo court" charge is perfectly valid. By refusing to acknowledge the obvious war crimes of Hamas and frantically search for Israel's instead the U.N. forfeited both moral and legal authority.

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