Tag Archives: Gisha


Today (Feb. 13, 2018) I learned that Israel’s travel restrictions in and out of Gaza through the Erez Border Crossing are well-documented policy, not just my imagination.

The Israeli border agency (COGAT) gloats that hundreds of Gazans enter Israel every day through Erez, but it won’t advertise that in the past year, it squeezed the number of exits by Palestinians down 51% compared to the number who crossed Erez in 2016.

GISHA, the legal center for the freedom of movement, issued a factsheet in January summarizing Israel’s travel restrictions. The entire factsheet makes my blood boil, but the following restriction elicited a silent scream.

MAKING GAZA RESIDENTS TRAVELLING ABROAD SIGN A COMMITMENT NOT TO RETURN FOR A YEAR: In February 2016, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) added a new criterion to the Status of Authorizations, a document which defines the categories of people in Gaza eligible to apply for exit permits. The criteria says that residents of Gaza can travel abroad via Erez and Allenby Bridge crossings on the condition that they sign a waiver stating that they will not request to re-enter Gaza for one year via Israel. In 2017, the practice became all the more absurd as Gaza residents whose exit from Gaza had already been approved for other reasons began to be detained at Erez Crossing until they signed the waiver. The authorities are thus essentially conditioning exit on signing the waiver. Our casework reveals that residents are being made to sign even when they do not intend to stay away one year nor have paperwork to allow them to reside in third countries and that minors were made to sign without guardians’ consent. The practice is a violation of one of the most fundamental rights – to leave and enter one’s place of residence.

Yep, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

Article 13. — (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

But when did any international declaration impact Israel’s decision-making? Answer: Never.

In an act of love and solidarity, the American Friends Service Committee launched #ValentinetoGaza this year, asking friends to post photos of themselves with a Valentine poster for our friends in Gaza.

There are so many friends in Gaza I’m thinking of today, wishing I could knock down every barrier, and share a Valentine with you directly. You’re in my heart!

(Lora in Gaza in 2013 – floral arrangements are ubiquitous in Gaza

for weddings, birthdays, celebrations and Valentines Day!)



Filed under Gaza, Israel, Uncategorized

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