Gisha staff continue to participate in webinars, panels and briefings for Israeli, Palestinian and international audiences in public and in private about the situation in Gaza, particularly regarding the coronavirus

In May, Gisha’s Director of International Relations Beth Oppenheim and Gisha’s Field Coordinator in Gaza Mohammad Azaiza joined Limmud’s panel , Gaza and the coronavirus, alongside Abier Al-Masri from Human Rights Watch. Azaiza addressed the challenges posed to the Gaza health infrastructure, in the face of mounting COVID-19 cases. Oppenheim discussed its frail state even before the pandemic as a result of the Israeli closure on Gaza: “Israel has used the argument of security to impose punitive and severe restrictions on the Strip and on its civilian population” (19:30) also stressing Israeli responsibility: “When Israel disengaged in 2005, the government claimed that it no longer had an obligation to the people of Gaza. That is not the case under international law.”

On September 8, Gisha’s Executive Director Tania Hary spoke on a webinar hosted by J Street, Gaza on the Brink of an Outbreak. Hary discussed the coronavirus situation in Gaza, Israel’s collective punishment of the Strip, specifically the spate of punitive measures imposed in August, including a block on the entry of fuel. “Gaza experiences chronic shortage of power, even on a good day when you have the power plant and lines of electricity purchased from Israel functioning at full capacity … you still don’t meet half the demand in the Strip.” (13:20)

On September 10, Oppenheim and Azaiza joined a virtual panel by the British pro-peace organization Yachad, 15 Years Later: Revisiting the Gaza Disengagement, with Member of Knesset Yair Golan. Oppenheim talked about Israeli control over Gaza: “To this day Israel continues to exert a great deal of control across the full spectrum of life inside the Gaza Strip.” She cited Israel’s responsibility under  the Fourth Geneva Convention “whereby Israel is required to ensure, to the fullest extent of the means available to it, the well-being of the population in Gaza.” (9:30) Azaiza described the Gaza disengagement from the point of view of a Gaza resident: “There is big responsibility on Israel for what has happened in Gaza over the past fifteen years. They left Gaza … but we didn’t gain freedom, and the Israelis didn’t gain security.” (25:00)

On September 15, Oppenheim led a virtual tour for Yachad titled The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Narratives and Realities. The tour mapped Israel’s continued control over the Strip, as well as Egypt’s role, leading viewers through the Erez, Kerem Shalom and Rafah crossings, and the informal Salah A-Din gate.

On October 27, Oppenheim participated in a virtual tour in collaboration with Alexander Jones from Green Olive Tours. The tour guided viewers through Israeli control over the Strip, showing how Israel still denies sea and air access to Gaza, and controls its land border crossings for people and goods, with the exception of the Rafah Crossing with Egypt. The second in the series will be held on January 10.

On November 12, Oppenheim participated in a webinar Justice denied: 13 years of closure in the occupied Gaza Strip, hosted by EuroMed Rights and CIDSE, alongside Gaza-based organizations Al Mezan and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. She noted that we are seeing a crisis of accountability inside the Strip, with all actors trying to evade responsibility, specifically Israel, which has adopted an exceedingly minimalistic interpretation of its obligations towards Gaza since the disengagement in 2005.