Israel Refuses to Allow Human Rights Groups Entry to Gaza

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have been barred from entering Gaza. The two groups, which have been known for braving some of the worst conditions around the globe to shed light on human rights abuses, are being told it’s all a bureaucratic mistake.

According to Israel, both HRW and Amnesty need to register with the Civil Administration before they will be granted access into Gaza. However, to register with the Civil Administration they had to be an approved and registered group at the Israeli Ministry of Social Affairs. Are you still with me? Okay, so Amnesty went to the Israeli Ministry of Social Affairs, but they were told since they were not an ‘aid’ or ‘humanitarian’ organization, they could not register.

This paper-pushing nightmare has created contention between Israel and the two human rights groups. Amnesty has publicly spoken out against their lack of access. Anne FitzGerald, the Director of Research and Crisis Response for Amnesty stated on August 19 that,

“The apparent resumption of Israeli airstrikes and rocket fire today is another reminder that our access to the Gaza Strip cannot wait. Valuable time has already been lost and it is essential that human rights organizations are now able to begin the vital job of examining allegations of war crimes… The Israeli authorities appear to have been playing bureaucratic games with us over access to Gaza, conditioning it on entirely unreasonable criteria even as the death toll in the region has risen.”

However, Yigar Palmor, a spokesman for the Social Affairs Ministry was quoted by Haaretz reporters as saying,

“Entrance to the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing is permitted primarily to humanitarian and aid organizations, journalists, diplomats, and international political officials. This is government policy and the criteria that the government set. I am not aware of any effort to withhold entry permits or registration from Amnesty for any political reason. As noted, the organization, by its own admission, does not meet the criterion set [humanitarian aid].”

The human rights groups were apparently also told the Eretz border crossing was closed, which would hinder their crossing. However, since then investigative reports showed the crossing was in fact open.

There has been a lot of criticism on both sides regarding fair and accurate reporting, and the free exchange of information. HRW, for instance, has been accused of leaning on a heavy anti-Israeli bias. During Operation Cast Lead, Ron Dermer, the director of policy and planning for Israel’s Prime Minister was quoted by the Jerusalem Post as saying, “We are going to dedicate time and manpower to combating these groups; we are not going to be sitting ducks in a pond for the human rights groups to shoot at us with impunity,”

Other countries have also barred or kicked out HRW and Amnesty staff in the past. During contentious uprisings, Egypt, Venezuela, Uzbekistan and Venezuela have all either detained or evicted researchers in their countries.

The two rights groups still have a few researchers on the ground. According to HRW, they have two researchers who are vastly overwhelmed, trying to document the level of destruction in Gaza. Amnesty, according to their website, has one.

The groups have had shaky access to the region for years, but now, as the world watches the destruction in Gaza, they feel it’s more important than ever to be granted access immediately. One HRW worker lamented that as time goes by, the events and evidence linked to human rights abuses will continue to disappear.


Maureen Hawkins
Maureen Hawkins1 years ago

Not all Jews are Netayahus, but he & his ilk claim anyone, including Jews, who oppose his policies are "anti-Semitic." That's like saying that anyone who doesn't embrace the views of the Aryan Brotherhood is "anti-White." The Aryan Brotherhood also would not allow Amnesty or HRW open entry to their doings. What they and Netanyahu do is better done in the dark.

Allona M.
Allona M.1 years ago

I will also add that Israel adopts a mentality that belongs to the 21 century. They support equal treatment of ALL its citizens regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual identity. Palestine have a mentality that belongs to the dark ages. They believe in stoning a woman for showing hair. They believe in killing a person for being gay. This is what you support when you support Palestine!

Allona M.
Allona M.1 years ago

Why is the whole world against Israel when they are a country that supports equality, and does nothing but GOOD for the world? Never forget that when 9/11 happened, these Palestinian SAVAGES were dancing on the streets and celebrating the deaths of almost 3000 innocent people! They get what they deserved!

Stephen Brian
Stephen Brian2 years ago

The correct approach for them would have been for HRW and AI to seek press-credentials and try to get their personnel in as journalists. Unfortunately, AI's record of poor reporting in this particular conflict is unparalleled, being the only Western organization not to retract claims proven false following the fighting in Jenin, and HRW's record in Gaza and the West Bank is, I understand, little better. They might not have gotten press-credentials if they had to measure up to the low standards of other reporters.

Ernest Roth
Ernest R.2 years ago

@ Kate R. "Why does Israel insist on playing the "persecuted religious minority" Because people buy it in order to not be accused of anti-Semitism. "conflict about race, but if the Jews insist on so doing, then they're simply perpetuating all the negative stereotypes". That is true, You can't fool all of the people all of the time, but even worse, when Israel equates Hamas with ISIS, it is pushing that toward reality. Helpless Gazans, defenceless and under attack by planes, tanks, artillery, cluster bombs and threatened with nuclear bombardment are becoming frustrated enough to accept help from ISIS just as abused and frustrated Chechnyans were finally pushed to obtain originally rejected "help" from Al Qaida

or which there was a price. Israel WILL regret pushing it to that point by its disgusting atrocities.

Ernest Roth
Ernest R.2 years ago

@ Chris C. "Why won't they allow these groups in?". Excellent question. As these groups investigate cases of abuse and violations of human rights, one would think Israel would be delighted to have an independent body expose acts of Hamas, which Netanyahu equates with ISIS, that "destroyed democracy, love and liberty, and personal freedom". as Berny p informs us. Of course you really believe that, right Berny ?

Ernest Roth
Ernest R.2 years ago

@ Berny P. "It is now fashionable to be anti-Semitic again, so long as you disguise it as anti-Zionism and anti-Israelism" It has for some time been fashionable for Bnai Brith and other racists to pretend that any criticism of Israeli Zionist crimes [ clear violations of international law as well as human decency] such as genocide and mass punishment as sanctioned by "God's law", the Torah, constitute "Anti -Semitism". Considering that Jews are an exceptionally well educated and intelligent group, I can only assume that Bnai Brith is lying when they state that Arabs are not Semitic. They are in fact more Semitic than Jews who now include non-Semitic Khazar converts from what is now Russia, and are in the forefront of criminal Zionism.

Vicky P.
Vicky P.2 years ago


Chris Carson
Past Member 2 years ago

Why won't they allow these groups in? Obviously they are committing atrocities that they don't want anyone to know about. How come the USA and UK raced off to start a war with Iraq supposedly because of Saddam Hussein's abuse of Human Rights and WMD's. WE found out the WMD threat was nonexistent, but the human rights issue was not... so justified the war. So my question is obvious, Israel definitely DOES have WMD'S ( we sell them to Israel) and they ARE committing Human Rights abuses, so... WHEN ARE WE GOING TO WAR????? :)

sheila h.
sheila haigh2 years ago

Over 300 Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of Nazi genocide unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza.

In response to a despicable racist advert placed in New York Times and other papers by Elie Weisel, survivors and descendents have placed a notice of their own views in the same papers (with names and family history);

"Genocide begins with the silence of the world", they say.

We must not allow Israel to silence the world by preventing access to Gaza by those tasked with finding out the truth.