A new position paper released today by Gisha, Area G: From Separation to Annexation, reviews and analyzes Israel’s “separation policy,” implemented as a means of deliberately isolating Gaza (Area G) physically, economically, and socially, and of dividing Palestinians through sweeping restrictions on movement. Alongside the settlement project in the West Bank, the separation policy has been used by Israel to advance political-demographic goals that cannot be justified on “security grounds:” Reducing the number of Palestinians living in the West Bank, weakening Palestinian institutions that would underpin a state, and advancing annexation at the expense of fundamental human rights.

Official information about the separation policy has never been published. In public statements and court proceedings, Israeli officials frame the sweeping restrictions Israel imposes on Palestinians’ travel and movement of goods as necessary for maintaining the policy, citing general “political-security needs” while relying on an extremely narrow interpretation of the state’s ongoing obligations towards Palestinians living under its control. Gisha’s position paper describes how Israel repeatedly employs its control over movement and access to fragment Palestinian society and apply pressure on the civilian population, constituting prohibited collective punishment. In implementing the separation policy, Israel fails to strike a reasonable balance between its concrete security needs and its duty to uphold and protect Palestinians’ human rights.

The position paper includes detailed examples of bureaucratic practices implemented by Israel through its control over the Palestinian population registry and over the crossings for movement of people and goods between Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank. It demonstrates how the oppressive permit regime managed by Israel has been used to manufacture a demographic reality in ways that serve Israel’s political aspirations, including the goal of formalizing annexation in the West Bank. Through its control over movement, Israel limits the number of Palestinians who are eligible to travel between Gaza and the West Bank; in particular, it impedes Palestinians’ access to the West Bank, including by using measures that may amount to prohibited forcible transfer of a population under occupation, in violation of international law.

In the past, Gisha highlighted how movement restrictions devastated Gaza’s economy and fractured Palestinian families, and also analyzed Israel’s legal obligations to allow movement between Gaza and the West Bank in order to protect human rights, including the right to self-determination. To this day, amid a pandemic and resultant global economic crisis – Israel’s separation policy continues to entrench the fragmentation of Palestinian society, undermine national institutions, block economic activity, split families apart, impede access to proper medical treatment, and infringe on other basic rights.

It is still unclear exactly when or how much of the West Bank Israel will seek to annex. The Trump plan, seen by many as a blueprint for the current Israeli government’s goals, presents a vision for Bantustan-like cantons of the West Bank connected, at most, by Israeli-controlled passages, not unlike the constricted passage between Gaza and the West Bank. Regardless of whether or not the threat of annexation materializes, Israel’s separation policy, and the resulting fragmentation of Palestinian life and connectivity in areas A, B, C and G, must be reversed in order to protect human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory.

To read the position paper Area G: From Separation to Annexation click here.