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Israel: restrictions on foreigners in West Bank increase Palestinian isolation, says HRW

January 24, 2023 at 12:20 pm

Israeli border police check the passports of tourists on their way to visit the Muslim area of the divided Ibrahimi Mosque or the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the occupied West Bank town of Hebron, on November 20,2021. [Photo by HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images]

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticised the new Israeli measures regarding the entry of foreigners to the occupied West Bank, saying that they threaten to isolate the Palestinians even more from loved ones and global civil society.

The rights watchdog issued a report on Monday based on interviews with thirteen people who detailed the difficulties they have faced for years when entering or remaining in the West Bank. “West Bank: New Entry Rules Further Isolate Palestinians” also voices their concerns about how the new guidelines will affect them, as well as the concerns of Israeli lawyers who have represented those challenging the restrictions.

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According to the report, the guidelines which came into force last October were amended in December. They set out detailed procedures for West Bank entry and residency for foreigners, a process distinct from the procedure for entry to Israel.

“By making it harder for people to spend time in the West Bank, Israel is taking yet another step toward turning the West Bank into another Gaza, where two million Palestinians have lived virtually sealed off from the outside world for over 15 years,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “This policy is designed to weaken the social, cultural and intellectual ties that Palestinians have tried to maintain with the outside world.”

In July 2022, the Israeli authorities refused to grant Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch’s Israel and Palestine director, a permit to enter the West Bank for one week to conduct research and advocacy, citing the army’s broad authority over entry.

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