“We have to adopt a policy that is the direct opposite of present practice”

"Instead of a policy of closure and isolation, we must act to maximize traffic to and from Gaza". Photo: Gaza City by Diana Whitten

“Instead of a policy of closure and isolation, we must act to maximize traffic to and from Gaza”. Photo: Gaza City by Diana Whitten

July 21, 2015. Eitan Diamond, Gisha Executive Director, publishes an op-ed in Haaretz calling for rehabilitation of Gaza and lifting of the closure: “In the conditions of isolation and separation that have been created […] it is impossible to conduct normal civilian life. A year after Operation Protective Edge, the Gaza Strip is still sown with destruction and far from rehabilitation. There is economic stagnation and rising unemployment, with most of the residents suffering from poverty and deprivation. In addition, the imposed separation between the Strip and the West Bank separates people from their relatives and unravels the shared fabric of life. These conditions arouse frustration and despair, leading to anger and hatred – and threaten to ignite another violent outburst which will harm both Palestinians and Israelis.

“In order to prevent that, senior army officers are now recommending a partial opening of the border crossings between Gaza and Israel. However, in the context of the present policy, partial improvements will not suffice. In order to rehabilitate Gaza and fulfill Israel’s legal obligations, we have to adopt a policy that is the direct opposite of present practice. Instead of a policy of closure and isolation, we must act to maximize traffic to and from Gaza. Of course we should not give up on the monitoring and restrictions required for security reasons, but prohibiting movement should be the exception rather than the rule.

“At the time the restrictions were imposed we experienced repeated rounds of combat and saw how the extremist groups in the Strip (and in Israel) increased their strength. We can expect this situation to continue, unless the country’s leader’s back their words with action and adopt a new path, which will release Gaza from its straitjacket and give us all hope.”

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