Visitor Restrictions To The Occupied Territories
Restrictions On Visitors To The OPT - More Information
Many of you have written concerned about the action alert we sent out last week regarding the new restrictions on entry into the Occupied Palestinian Territories - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/palsolidarity/message/844
For clarification and further information:
1) The ISM is not recommending nor suggesting that you delay or cancel your visit to Palestine on the basis of this order. Quite the opposite, we encourage you to come, witness show your solidarity, and prove that the Israeli military and government cannot completely isolate the Palestinian people, nor treat them like zoo animals requiring admission "tickets" for entry.
2) The restriction on foreigners entering Areas 'A' is actually not new. It has been in place since May 8, 2003, the same time that the Israeli military completely sealed off Gaza, requiring special permission for entry and the signing of a "waiver" absolving Israel from responsibility should those entering Gaza be killed or injured - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/palsolidarity/message/582. However, since entry into the West Bank is more difficult to control than entry into Gaza, the Israeli authorities had not decided back in May how to implement this order for the West Bank. The release of the order on January 4, 2004 signaled a decision on implementation - threatening those caught in Areas 'A' with deportation and denial of future entry into Israel.
3) Making phone calls to the Israeli authorities, we learned that the cases in which they plan to grant entry permits into Areas 'A' are those that are deemed "humanitarian". What about for Palestinians coming from abroad to visit family? What about the Palestinian nationals of other countries that live in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and as it stands have to apply for a visa from Israel every three months? Are these Palestinians now going to be told that they have to leave their homes in Ramallah, Nablus, Tulkarem?
4) What of the access for "humanitarian cases", when Israel continues to create humanitarian catastrophes by hold up ambulances at checkpoints, denying Palestinians their right to food, work and medical care, conducting military operations in civilans areas, opening fire on unarmed civilians and massively demolishing Palestinian civilians homes, leaving thousands homeless?
5) The Israeli government just reimposed and toughened an order on Palestinian travel. As the Israeli authorities control all entrances and exits in and out of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, all Palestinians seeking to travel abroad need to obtain permission from the Israeli military. Today the Israeli military reimposed a travel restriction on Palestinian males. Travel abroad is forbidden for all Palestinian males between the ages of 16 and 45.
Your protest and solidarity is so very important. Please inform your family, friends, colleagues, community, media and government officials of what is happening here. Please contact your respective Embassies and/or Consulates in Israel and demand that they take a stand against Israel's attempt to completely isolate the Palestinian people. Contact the Israeli Embassy in your country and register your protest that a state claiming to be "civilized" and a "democracy" treats human beings in such a fashion.
For those of you that asked for the text of the order, it is reprinted below. You can also find a scanned copy on our website at www.palsolidarity.org
Thank you to Member of the European Parliament, Luisa Morgantini for raising this issue with the European Parliament. You can find a note from Luisa and her letter to the Chair of the European Parliament below.
For more information on this matter, contact: Huwaida: +972-67-473-308
INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT
TEXT OF ORDER
Welcome to the State of Israel Information on entry into territories under the control of the Palestinian Authority
1. We would like to bring to your atention, that entry into the territories under the control of the Palestinian Authority, in the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria (Area A), is forbidden without the attainment of prior written authorization.
2. Entry into the aforementioned territories, without prior auhtorization may result in legal measures being taken against you, including deportation and refusal of future re-entry into the State of Israel.
3. Those interested in entering the Gaza Strip via the "Erez" crossing are required to fill out a form requesting entry (into the territories controlled by the palestinian Authority) and to submit it to the Foreign Relations Office in the Coordination & Liaison Administration in the Gaza Strip, situated at "Erez" crossing.
4. Requests will be processed with the utmost effrort to authorize them within 5 working days.
5. Additional information can be obtained at the Foreign Relations Office in the Coordination & Liaison Administration in the Gaza Strip reachable by telephone (08-674-1556) or by facsimile (08-689-2613).
6. The submission of a request to authorize entry into the above mentioned areas does not constitute permission to do so until written authorization has been recieved.
FROM MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, LUISA MORGANTINI
January 14, 2004
please, find attached (and also below) a letter I sent today after making an intervention yesterday at the opening session of the European Parliament about the new restrictions on visitors to the Palestinian Territories. This letter has been sent to Patten, Prodi, Pat Cox, Solana, to the Irish Prime Minister, to the presidents of political groups and all the MEPs.
Strasbourg, 13 January 2004
Further to my intervention yesterday at the opening session of the European Parliament on the new restrictions on visitors to the Palestinian Territories imposed by the Israeli Authorities, please, find attached the document concerned.
Briefly, visitors to the West Bank and Gaza Strip are now required to apply for permission and obtain written authorisation from the Civil Administration of the Israeli Military, without which they could be deported and refused future re-entry to the State of Israel.
This measure is a further attempt by Israel to annihilate every sovereignty of the Palestinian Authority in its territories, and to isolate Palestinian people and treat them like prisoners, controlling if and when Palestinians are allowed to have contacts with the international community.
This results in a clear violation of international law, a complete disregard of Palestinian Authority, and a restriction of movement not only of international visitors, but also of EU officials.
Foreign citizens - among them EU officials - arriving to Ben Gurion Airport or at one of the bridges from Jordan are now being handed this order, apparently as a warning, as no signature is yet being required for entry into Israel. The threat of deportation and banning of re-entry into Israel is especially concerning as Israel controls all borders and entry into the Palestinian Territories. Therefore a ban on entry into Israel translates into a ban on access to the Palestinian Territories.
This measure is similar to restrictions placed on entry to the Gaza Strip in May 2003 which required any foreign visitor including journalists and NGO workers to sign a form in which they agreed that Israel held no responsibility for their death or injury by the Israeli army. This made it difficult for international monitors and humanitarian workers to enter Gaza.
Therefore, I request you to ask the Israeli Authorities the reason of this restriction and its immediate withdrawal.
Chairwoman of the Delegation for relations with
the Palestinian Legislative Council