The State of Israel restricts the movement of both people and goods to and from Gaza through Israeli territory. To travel, or transport goods, Palestinians must submit a permit application to the Israeli authorities and receive their approval. Israel controls Gaza residents’ freedom of movement through dozens of procedures and protocols, violating their rights to family life, health, religious worship and more. The following document does not cover all the procedures Israel uses to regulate Palestinian life, but rather focuses on those used by Israel to circumscribe Gaza residents’ access to educational opportunities and livelihoods, including commercial activity, academic studies, and other opportunities for professional development outside the Gaza Strip.
After extensive legal efforts by Gisha, the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) was compelled to publish the procedures that govern its operations on its website. While the website implies all procedures are released in both Hebrew and Arabic, it should be noted that not all procedures are translated into Arabic and that the website sometimes contains outdated, and thus misleading, procedures. For example, the key document to Israel’s permit regime, known as the Status of Authorizations document, is updated several times a year, but the updates appear only in the Hebrew version. The Arabic version has not been updated since 2017.
Gisha is an Israeli human rights organization dedicated to protecting Palestinians’ right to freedom of movement, particularly Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip. We have been providing legal assistance to Gaza residents in an effort to protect their right to freedom of movement since 2005. Through our work, we have come to realize that the people whose lives are directly affected by these procedures are either unaware of their existence or are reluctant to make use of them for one reason or another, including due to confusion about what the rules actually are. In 2015, we decided to share the information, knowledge and experience we had gained over the years with pertinent audiences, namely Palestinian residents of Gaza and the West Bank, foreign nationals residing in the region, and journalists. This document was written with a view to enable residents of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Israelis and foreigners who wish to exercise their right to freedom of movement to successfully engage the Israeli authorities on their own.
Publishing these procedures does not mean that Gisha recognizes their legitimacy, in fact quite the contrary. The sweeping restrictions Israel imposes through them are disproportionate and constitute a breach of international law. The main failing is not the fact that the procedures are not published, but rather, the very fact that they exist. Gisha, therefore, engages in legal and public efforts to challenge the legitimacy of these procedures, working with army officials, the Israeli justice system, and policymakers. Still, so long as the procedures are enforced, familiarity with them is a practical necessity, even if only to allow more people to exercise their rights, thereby enriching their own lives and communities.
We clarify that the information included in this document is correct true to the time of publication, to the best of the knowledge and according to the experience of Gisha staff. However, the Israeli authorities often change the way they implement the procedures. In addition, Israeli authorities sometimes do not implement requirements listed in a procedure, and sometimes make requirements that are not listed in them. This version of the Access Kit is the third version created by Gisha and was last updated in October 2019.
Gisha’s intake hours for consultation in Arabic, Hebrew or English, are Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. We can be reached by phone at 03-6244120 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.