Tag Archives: freedom of movement


I’m reminded in so many ways that movement is a human right that many of us take for granted. And the politicization of movement is abhorrent.

Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts that:

  • citizen of a state in which that citizen is present has the liberty to travel, reside in, and/or work in any part of the state where one pleases within the limits of respect for the liberty and rights of others,
  • and that a citizen also has the right to leave any country, including his or her own, and to return to his or her country at any time.

Consider the following:

President Trump has sent 5,000 troops to the US-Mexico border to erect concertina wire in an effort to thwart immigrants traveling in a caravan from Central America. The first are arriving in Tijuana this week.

A Palestinian friend from Gaza has recently been granted asylum in the UK (“Liberation from the Israeli occupation & oppression and freedom from social and cultural restrictions”) and he now has a UK travel document (“Reclaimed my freedom of movement”).

Another Palestinian friend sits with me at an outdoor cafe in Cairo and looks up into the sky. He points to the commercial airplane flying overhead and tells me “We never see such planes in the skies over Gaza; only Israeli military jets and drones.”

A Jewish American lawyer has been working with refugees in Greece for several years in their applications for asylum. She has recently come under attack with death threats by Nazis who want to scare her away.


The Erez Crossing between Israel and Gaza. http://www.guardian.co.uk

A DHL employee in Cairo tells me that DHL can’t ship a box of books to Gaza for me, only envelopes. He says Israel has returned boxes with no explanation.

I want to speak with my US Embassy in Cairo about getting permission to travel across the Sinai to Gaza. The earliest available appointment is December 10, in one month. Are they really THAT busy?

Walking around the pyramids at Giza, my Palestinian companion is stopped twice by different security forces who take him aside. They want to see his travel documents, and pat him down. I step closer to him and when they see that we’re traveling together, they wave us both through.

Movement is power. If you can move freely, you have power. If you can prevent another from moving, you have power.

Movement is essential for accessing any other rights or freedoms. No movement = no health.  No movement = no education.  No movement = no dignity.


Israel’s separation barrier

While the U.S. and Israel spend their bloated military budgets ostensibly on security, but practically on thwarting the basic right of freedom of movement, the world grows ever more dangerous and deadly for many more people.

What would happen if we redirected our military budget into a global humanitarian budget, while welcoming refugees with open arms?






Filed under Peaceful, Politics, Uncategorized, US Policy

Can’t get there from here

I am sharing this letter verbatim because it explains so well the current situation at the Rafah border between Gaza and Egypt.  Freedom of movement should be on the top of the agenda when the “peace talks” begin.

Human rights groups to DM Ya’alon: Respect Gaza residents’ right to freedom of movement

Monday, July 22, 2013

A group of Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations wrote to Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Monday demanding Israel take action to allow Gaza residents affected by the new restrictions at Rafah Crossing to exit and enter Gaza.

Recent turmoil in Egypt has brought new restrictions on passage via Rafah Crossing. Since July 1, exit via Rafah has been reduced to less than one third its usual scope. As a result, more than 10,000 people are stranded in Gaza. An unknown number of others cannot exercise their basic human right to return to their homes, and they are unduly paying for involuntary stays in airports and hotels in foreign countries.

Currently, only medical patients with referrals from the Palestinian Ministry of Health and holders of a foreign citizenship or residence are allowed to enter Egypt from Gaza. Gaza residents present in Egypt are allowed to return home, but those still abroad are not being permitted to land at Egyptian airports. Because Israel does not allow passage to and from Gaza via the air or sea and limits passage via land crossings with Israel, Gaza residents have become dependent on Egypt as their gateway to travel abroad.

Students needing to reach universities abroad, Palestinian residents needing to return to their work places outside Gaza, businesspeople and medical patients without official referrals are all stuck.

Due to Israel’s control over the Gaza Strip, it has an obligation, under the law of occupation and human rights law, to enable Gaza residents to lead normal lives, including the opportunity to leave Gaza and return to it. If travel through Rafah is inadequate, Israel must allow Gaza residents to exercise their right to freedom of movement through other crossings, whether on land through the border crossings between Israel and Gaza or by sea and air, to the outside world. (emphasis added)

In the past, when traffic at Rafah was restricted, Israel allowed individuals to enter and leave the Strip via crossings with Israel, as part of a shuttle bus system and on an individual basis.

As the situation in Egypt remains volatile and restrictions at Rafah continue, the undersigned human rights groups calls upon Israel’s defense minister to immediately institute arrangements that will allow Palestinian residents of Gaza to exercise their fundamental right to freedom of movement.

Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement
PCHR – Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Hamoked – Center for the Defence of the Individual
PHR-Israel – Physicians for Human Rights – Israel
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights

Outside of the Rafah border crossing gate on the Egyptian side.

Outside of the Rafah border crossing gate on the Egyptian side.



Filed under Gaza, Israel, Occupation