PCHR condemns Israel’s recent crackdown on internationals

PCHR condemns the Israeli authorities’ recent decision to impose severe restrictions on internationals entering the Gaza Strip. Over the last ten days internationals have been required to submit to a number of measures before being allowed into Gaza, including signing a declaration exempting Israel from responsibility for death, injury or any damage that they may incur while in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli authorities have restricted access to tourists, journalists, humanitarian and human rights workers and medical personnel, making some individuals wait up to 9 hours for access from the Gaza Strip into Israel and similar periods when traveling into Gaza as well. In the latest development, as of yesterday, 10 May 2003, the Erez border crossing was completely closed to all internationals, except for United Nations staff and diplomats.
PCHR believes that the policy’s objective is to prevent internationals from witnessing the daily crimes that are perpetrated by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.
PCHR strongly condemns Israel’s policy of preventing internationals from entering the Gaza Strip, in particular the staff of international humanitarian organizations, making it impossible for them to carry out their humanitarian work in the region. This comes in the context of an already deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. As the occupying power, the State of Israel is obligated to facilitate access for workers from recognized humanitarian organizations under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
PCHR calls upon internationals not to sign any declarations absolving Israel from any responsibility for their welfare whilst in the Gaza Strip and urges individuals to raise the issues with their governments, to pressure their countries to adopt reciprocal policies against Israeli citizens if these measures continue.