Gisha and co-founder Sari Bashi receive Emil Grunzweig Human Rights Award

Sun., December 14, 2014: Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement and its co-founder, attorney Sari Bashi, will be awarded the Emil Grunzweig Human Rights Award today for their work defending freedom of movement for residents of the Gaza Strip. The award ceremony will be held this evening in Jaffa.

The Emil Grunzweig Human Rights Award is given annually by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) to an individual or organization that has made a unique and outstanding contribution to the advancement of human rights in Israel. The award was established in 1981 but was renamed in 1983 after the murder of peace activist Emil Grunzweig by a grenade thrown during a demonstration against the First Lebanon War.

The award committee this year included Prof. Yitzhak Benbaji, Prof. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari and Prof. Michael Karayanni. Their decision to grant the award to Gisha and its co-founder and first executive director Sari Bashi was attributed to their unique contribution in harnessing public attention to access restrictions imposed on Palestinians, especially those living in the Gaza Strip.

From the Committee’s statement on the award:

“Gisha is the only human rights organization focusing on the Gaza Strip, which, in the absence of active hostilities, receives little attention from the Israeli public. Freedom of movement is a prerequisite for exercising other basic rights such as the right to education, livelihood, health care and family reunification. Since Bashi established Gisha, the organization has helped thousands of people overcome travel restrictions to be reunited with their families and to access professional and educational opportunities.

“The organization’s activities to stimulate public debate about Israel’s policy in Gaza have led to profound changes in the conduct of the Israeli authorities and in public perception … Gisha has established itself over the years as a source of reliable information and an authority on the legal status of the Gaza Strip”.

Bashi founded Gisha together with Professor Kenneth Mann in 2005. Gisha’s achievements include reversing a ban on students from Gaza studying abroad by publicizing that Fulbright students were blocked from leaving and uncovering secret military documents that counted the calories that Gaza residents were permitted to consume, in the context of a policy that restricted incoming goods to Gaza.

For more details: Shai Grunberg, Spokesperson, shai@gisha.org