Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of maintaining restrictions on the freedom of movement of Palestinians between Gaza and the West Bank years after withdrawing from the Gaza Strip in 2005. In a 90-page report entitled “Forget him, he is not here”, the organisation said, “Israeli policies related to the accommodation procedures for the Palestinians have led to the arbitrary deprivation of thousands of Palestinians of the freedom to travel and stay between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip”.
The report added that the restrictions imposed on the Palestinians’ registration do not allow any of them to obtain identity cards except those who are “recognised” by Israel. The ID card is an important document as it allows Palestinians to move around inside the occupied Palestinian territories through Israeli checkpoints; it is also a prerequisite for a Palestinian passport.
The organisation said that “the policy practiced by the Israeli military to control the registration of the Palestinian population, that is, the list of Palestinians who are considered legitimate residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, has led to the separation of family members, the loss of jobs and educational opportunities for many individuals, and the prevention of many others from entering the Palestinian territories”. In addition, it has aided the imprisonment of another group inside the territories.
According to HRW, a study conducted in 2005 for the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem revealed that more than 640,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have a father, brother, husband or a child who is “non-registered”.
The study added that since the year 2000, Israel has refused to consider applications for registration and accommodation submitted by non-registered Palestinians and their spouses and close relatives, even if they have been residing in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip for years and have families, homes, business and other links there.
The Human Rights Watch report added that non-registered Palestinians cannot obtain identity cards or passports, which are necessary for travelling abroad. It is estimated that at least 12,000 Palestinian in Gaza come under this category.