Gisha in urgent letter to Minister of Defense, COGAT: Israel’s decision to revoke hundreds of permits held by Gaza traders constitutes illegal collective punishment

On February 9, 2020,  Gisha sent an urgent letter to Israel’s Minister of Defense Naftali Bennet, and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Major Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun, demanding that they cancel immediately the decision to revoke hundreds of travel permits held by traders from the Gaza Strip.

According to media reports, just before midnight on February 1, Israel decided to revoke 500 trader permits that enable their holders to exit Gaza and travel to Israel and the West Bank in order to conduct business. Israel framed the decision as a response to rocket fire and the launching of incendiary balloons from Gaza toward Israel. According to information received by Gisha, the following day, Israel submitted a list to the Palestinian Authority coordination office in Gaza, including hundreds of names of traders whose permits have been revoked following “security preclusions.” The permits revoked had been issued by Israel to residents who had already passed individual screening conducted by Israeli security authorities.

The punitive decision to revoke hundreds of permits severely harms these traders’ businesses, and infringes on their rights to freedom of occupation, to livelihood and to dignity. It also has grave repercussions for Gaza’s economy as a whole.

In the letter, Gisha emphasizes that drafting an arbitrary list of traders for the purpose of revoking their permits constitutes illegal collective punishment of the civilian population of the Strip.

Given Israel’s substantive control over countless aspects of life in the Strip, it has an obligation to protect the rights of Gaza’s residents, including an obligation to allow normal life in the Strip. Israel must immediately halt the implementation of punitive measures against the civilian population, reinstate the revoked trader permits and erase any records referencing a “security preclusion” against them. 

To read the letter, translated to English, see here.