Gisha executive director Tania Hary participated in sessions on Gaza and the work of human rights organizations in Israel in the J Street National Conference in Washington D.C.

Session on human rights defenders in Israel (center: Tania Hary). Photo: from Breaking the Silence Facebook page.

Session on human rights defenders in Israel (center: Tania Hary). Photo: from Breaking the Silence Facebook page.

February 28, 2017. Gisha executive director Tania Hary participated in the annual J Street National Conference in Washington D.C., alongside public figures from Israel and the U.S., NGO representatives and public opinion leaders. During a session on human rights defenders in Israel, Hary said: “The human rights violations we come across aren’t just a byproduct of the conflict, but a tool designed to maintain the status quo. In the case of the Gaza Strip, it is a policy which is meant to separate between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and imposes serious travel restrictions on Gaza residents, thereby blocking any chance of reaching a resolution for the conflict”.

In the same conference, Hary moderated a breakout session devoted to the Gaza Strip. The panel included Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin, who presented a poll she conducted on Gisha’s behalf. The poll, which examined the positions of the Israeli public on Israel’s policy toward Gaza, indicates that most Israelis – more than two thirds – think the Gaza closure policy has undermined Israel’s security. Sixty-nine percent believe improving living conditions in Gaza would serve Israel’s interests and 70% think such improvement would reduce the level of hostility and violence.  A large majority of the Israeli public (76%) are aware of the depth of Israel’s control over Gaza. About half the people polled believed this control came with a responsibility for Gaza’s residents. When given the specific example of a woman with no security background who wishes to travel from Gaza to the West Bank to study for an advanced university degree, a case which does not meet Israel’s criteria for a permit to exit Gaza, more than half (54%) of the respondents thought Israel should allow the woman to travel.