Human Right Watch: Israel Blocking Access to Gaza

Kifah Quzmar

Human Rights Watch said it had only once since 2008 received permission from Israel for foreign staff to enter Gaza.

"In recognition of the need for humanitarian aid in Gaza, the Ministry of Interior made a decision to permit foreign workers of the United Nations and the Red Cross free movement to enter and leave the Gaza Strip", a ministry spokesman said in a statement.

Human Rights Watch has accused Israel, Egypt and Hamas of systematically preventing rights workers from investigating abuses in the Gaza Strip.

Now, rights workers say they too are struggling to get into Gaza.

The Independent Commission for Human Rights, a Palestinian watchdog, called on Hamas to end the closure, while Gisha, an Israeli human rights group that usually battles the Israeli closure, strongly condemned Hamas' restrictions. But not allowing experts in limits investigations. Travel restrictions on human rights workers, it said, were "unavoidable... due to weighty security and political considerations". Although Israel has said it is conducting its own investigation and that there in no need for an ICC inquiry, Monday's report was highly skeptical of this claim.

"If Israel wants the prosecutor to take seriously its argument that its criminal investigations are adequate, a good first step would be to allow human rights researchers to bring relevant information to light".

The Israeli government rejects these claims.

Among the Hamas officials questioned were the security officers in charge of the city's western districts, where the assassination took place, the official said.

The IDF's Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the unit responsible for implementing government policy in Judea and Samaria and vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip, denied barring rights groups from visiting the enclave.

Reports said Hamas was looking for the assassins, believing they are still in Gaza, but the knock-on effects have been significant.

The report also accuses Egypt of preventing its workers and workers of the Britain-based Amnesty International from entering Gaza from its border since 2012.

The terrorist group stated on Sunday that the only one responsible for last month's killing of its senior member Mazen Fuqaha is "the Zionist entity". He was arrested by Israel for his part in a 2002 bus bombing that killed nine Israelis.

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