Israel is blocking access to Gaza, Human Rights Watch says

Hamas Allows UN/Red Cross Workers to Leave Gaza, While Threatening “Collaborators”

Hamas Allows UN/Red Cross Workers to Leave Gaza, While Threatening “Collaborators”

GAZA, Palestinian Territory - The United Nations and human rights groups are accusing Gaza's Hamas rulers of endangering their own people by closing the territory's main crossing with Israel.

In a 47-page report, the organization accused Israel of "systematically" preventing its researchers from visiting Gaza since 2008, only granting them one exceptional permit previous year.

Gisha, an Israeli organization that advocates for easing the restrictions preventing Palestinians from leaving the Gaza Strip, condemned the closure of the Erez Crossing by Hamas.

Under Israel's restrictive policy, only a very limited number of people and goods are allowed in and out of Gaza.

Human rights workers are being blocked from accessing Gazan territories by Israel's military, according to a Human Rights Watch report published on Monday.

"Hamas is known for its internal assassinations - let them look there", he said.

Hamas, which controls Gaza, has blamed Israel's Mossad intelligence agency for the killing of Mazen Faqha who was found shot dead at his home on 24 March.

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After the killing, Hamas set up military-style checkpoints throughout Gaza, prevented fishermen from going out to sea and barred all residents and foreign aid workers from leaving the coastal strip.

The restrictions allegedly interfere with the activists' efforts to "document and combat rights abuses, violations of worldwide humanitarian law and war crimes" particularly during the 2014 Gaza war, the report says.

Since 2008, Human Rights Watch has only once received permission to get foreign staff into Gaza via Israel - during a September 2016 visit, which the Israeli authorities characterized as exceptional. It said Hamas has failed to protect local human rights workers from retribution and has sometimes arrested or harassed its critics.

The report also criticized Hamas' refusal to cooperate with investigators.

Israel has long accused HRW of being unfairly biased against it. The MAG called the travel restrictions on human rights workers "unavoidable ... due to weighty security and political considerations".

"Security concerns do not give any actor free reign to violate human rights", Gisha said.

Cogat, the Israeli defense body that coordinates access to Gaza, denied barring rights groups from visiting the enclave.

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