Socio-ecological Union
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Nature in War


A strict Israeli imposed closure remains in place throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel implements a two-tiered policy of closure: General closure has been in place since 1993 that prohibits Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza from entering Israel and East Jerusalem unless they obtain a special time-limited permit. Since the beginning of the current uprising, all of these permits have been revoked, causing high unemployment rates, as thousands of Palestinians are unable to reach their place of work inside Israel. Meanwhile, general closure impedes Palestinians from travelling freely within the Palestinian Territories by slicing the territories into three detached areas; the Gaza Strip and two parts of the West Bank - north and south -and Israeli-controlled Jerusalem.

At the same time, a policy of internal closure has been periodically invoked over the past several weeks to seal Palestinian villages and towns, prohibiting movement between urban centers and literally imprisoning entire communities in their villages or towns. Forty (40) new military checkpoints within Gaza Strip have been erected, in addition to the control over 40% of the strip (146 m2) of settlement and surrounding areas, whereas the West Bank has been turned from a one geographic continuum into almost twenty seven (27) isolated zones by assembling an estimated 120 new added military posts. Keeping in mind that the Palestinian controlled zones (i.e. Area A) comprise only 2.70% of the whole of the West Bank (viz. 160 km2 out of 5842 km2). These new military outposts have further divided this minute land. Most cruelly, Hebronites have been under total closure and curfew since the beginning of the uprising, completely barred from leaving their homes.

Israel has made clear its intention to 'punish' the Palestinian National Authority for 'failing to contain the violence' by economic strangulation, a policy that serves to collectively punish the entire Palestinian population. This policy will continue to have a disastrous effect on the Palestinian economy and seriously impedes access to schools, medical care, and food. These conditions make it impossible for many Palestinians to continue with their lives and deprive them of fundamental economic, social and cultural rights; for children to attend school and play outside; for people to work and support their families; and for parents to rear their children in a safe and healthy environment. All these forms of collective punishment are, supposedly, prohibited under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Amnesty International is worried because of the prevailing situation, and support dispatching international protection and observer force to the Palestinian occupied territories, reports, after Amnesty International staff has been denied entry into Gaza for two days in the period from 23-25/11/2000. Along the same lines and within the same period, the Red Cross Society criticized Israel for restricting the movement of the Palestinian people and freezing large sums of money collected by Israel and belonging to the PNA.

Mary Robinson, the UN human-rights commissioner, witnessed first hand the extreme difficulties facing the Palestinian people when she was blockaded from touring Gaza freely and when was attacked by Israeli settlers in Hebron during her visit to the occupied territories early in November. At a meeting of Palestinian human-rights groups in Gaza, Mrs. Robinson remarked that rarely had a people been in so obvious need of international protection.

The situation has become particularly difficult in the Gaza Strip, where petrol and fuel supplies have almost run out. A number of areas are suffering from lack of basic necessities as a result of the strict closure and economic strangulation witnessed by Gaza and detrimentally by the West Bank.

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