Israel is interfering with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) investigations into alleged war crimes and human rights violations in the Gaza Strip, according to Amnesty International representatives.
“We’re doing everything we can, both Human Rights Watch and us, to do all the documentation we can, both on the ground in Gaza and remotely. But not being able to have researchers there does create difficulties,” Deborah Hyams told Reuters Monday. The activist added that the group had only one local worker on the ground.
HRW Middle East researcher Bill Van Esveld told Reuters that his group had two representatives in Gaza.
“They’re overwhelmed. There’s so much to look into … and physical evidence about the events there is disappearing as time goes by,” the researcher said.
HRW and Amnesty International have been unsuccessfully trying to get permission from the Israeli Civil Administration to enter Gaza since July 7, Israeli outlet Haaretz reports.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told Haaretz that he was unaware of the HRW complaints, but noted that Amnesty International’s representatives could not enter Gaza because the organization is not registered with the Social Affairs Ministry.
“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,” the spokesman said.
HRW representatives have been barred from entering Gaza through the Erez crossing from Israel since 2006, while Amnesty International representatives have been refused entry since June 2012. Both group’s workers were able to use Egypt’s Rafah border crossing to enter Gaza until Mohamed Morsi’s government was brought down by the country’s armed forces in 2013. Since then, Egypt has not issued a clear response as to why it has closed its border.
The entry bans come amid international criticism of Israel for allegedly committing war crimes and violating humanitarian laws. The United Nations has launched an investigation into possible war crimes committed both by Israelis and Palestinians in the course of military operations in Gaza starting from June 13, 2014. The investigators plan to issue a report by March 2015, according to a UN statement.