Israel denies blocking access to Gaza

The IDF denied a Human Rights Watch report alleging that the Israeli military blocked entry into the Gaza Strip.

The IDF has denied a report issued by a human rights group which alleged that Israel is blocking their entry into the Gaza Strip.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Monday accused Israel of barring foreign researchers from entering the Gaza Strip to document alleged abuses, claiming that the restrictions call into question Israel’s stated commitment to investigating possible rights violations.

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. It said in a statement that it allows over 1,000 people to cross through the border each day for a variety of purposes, including business, medical treatment and academic studies, and that all criteria are in line with security needs.

“We coordinate the crossing of many human rights organizations,” it said, naming the group “Doctors Without Borders” as an example. The statement made no mention of Human Rights Watch or Amnesty.

COGAT accused the Hamas terror group of trying to exploit Gaza civilians traveling through Israel for military purposes, “causing a constant tension between the will to help the civilian Gaza residents and our duty to protect the citizens of Israel.”

Just recently, Israel arrested a Turkish aid worker, employed by Hamas, who was traveling through Israel while gathering intelligence for the terror group.

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Unfairly Biased Against Israel

COGAT was referring to a 47-page report published by HRW that accused Israel of “systematically” preventing its researchers from visiting Gaza since 2008, while only granting them one exceptional permit last year. The group also said that Egypt has prevented it and Amnesty International from entering Gaza from its territory since 2012.

Israel and Egypt have imposed a blockade on Gaza since Hamas took over the territory in 2007, in an attempt to stem its military buildup.

Israel has long accused HRW of being unfairly biased against it. Last month, Israel refused to grant a work permit to the New York group’s regional director, though it later allowed him to visit the country as a tourist.

The report also criticized Hamas’ refusal to cooperate with investigators. It said Hamas has failed to protect local human rights workers from retribution and has sometimes arrested or harassed its critics.

The absence of foreign rights investigators, who are less susceptible to Hamas pressure, limits the ability of Palestinian rights groups from documenting abuses by the terror group, the report said.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff