For several decades, the lives of Palestinians have been shaped by a vast number of procedures and protocols issued by Israel. Among other things, these procedures regulate the movement of people and goods between Gaza, the West Bank, Israel, and abroad. They establish, for example, the criteria one needs to meet in order to request a permit to visit a sick relative, attend a family celebration, relocate, take up academic studies, participate in professional activities, import and export goods, and much, much more.
Palestinians’ ability to exercise their right to freedom of movement – as well as a host of other rights that are dependent on movement – is subject to Israel’s approval. Israel’s criteria for Palestinian travel to and from the Gaza Strip via Erez Crossing are especially restrictive, and are limited, mostly, to what Israel defines as “humanitarian exceptions.”
Following Gisha’s legal battle to compel the Israeli authorities to publish the official procedures restricting Palestinian travel, including procedures pertaining to West Bank residents, most of the procedures have now been published on the website of the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories. However, the procedures themselves are unclear and inaccessible, and many are not translated into Arabic, meaning that even the small number of people who might be eligible to apply for a permit to travel or to transport goods to and from Gaza have no way of knowing what the criteria for doing so are, or if they meet them.
The Access Kit is a document Gisha put together in an effort to make these procedures more accessible to the public in Gaza and to others that are impacted by them. Publishing the procedures does not mean that Gisha recognizes their legitimacy, in fact quite the opposite. Gisha engages in legal and public advocacy to oppose the procedures, which violate human rights and harm the functioning of the Palestinian economy and society. Still, as long as the procedures are enforced by Israel, familiarity with them is a practical necessity, even if only to allow more people the possibility of exercising their basic rights.
The Access Kit’s focus is on access to professional opportunities; it includes information on applications for permits to engage in trade, to reach higher education abroad, and to attend professional conferences and training. It also reviews procedures for coordinating the entrance of foreign nationals and businesspeople with Israeli citizenship into Gaza.
To view the Access Kit, click here
To read the publication (PDF)