Rights group urges Israel to end residency restrictions

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Sunday urged Israel [press release] to change its policies that forbid Palestinians from traveling through and living in Gaza and the West Bank. The report [text, PDF] describes the policy that causes separation within Palestinian families since some are trapped inside Israel while their family members are forbidden from entering. Israel was also criticized by HRW for never disclosing its rationale for imposing the restrictions on travel and residency. In the report, HRW Middle East director stated:

Israel has never put forth any concrete security rationale for blanket policies that have made life a nightmare for Palestinians whom it considers unlawful residents in their own homes. The current policies leave families divided and people trapped on the wrong side of the border in Gaza and the West Bank. Israel should revise these policies and process requests for families to reunite, so that Palestinians can live with their families where they want.
As part of the restrictions, Israel employs a population registry in which all Palestinians living in Israel must register in order to be allowed to travel within the country. Without a registration card, Palestinians are not permitted to re-enter Israel to see their family members. Recently, Israel has changed its policies regarding processing of applications that would allow split families to be reunited, among others, in such a way that the applications are slowly processed, making the time split families spend apart longer. Israel has not explained its reason for making the policy change.

While HRW has urged Israel to change its policies concerning Palestinian residencies, Israel has recently made some changes on its own accord to certain legislative policies. In January, an Israeli government panel approved a bill [JURIST report] that would make it illegal to use any Nazi symbols, names, or images, including the use of the term "Nazi" and any clothing resembling that worn by prisoners at concentration camps. Also in January, the Israeli Knesset passed a bill [JURIST report] that imposes harsher penalties on illegal migrants in Israel, as well as on Israelis who help illegal migrants. The bill amends the Prevention of Infiltration Law of 1954, broadening the law to include not only individuals suspected of terrorism, but all illegal migrants.

 

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