During the 40 (1967-2006) years of military occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank including East Jerusalem Israel has imposed different types of movement restrictions on Palestinians.
These movement restrictions are commonly referred to by human rights organizations as the closure policy. The policy includes closing down access to vehicles as well as pedestrian roads and passages throughout the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). It also restricts movement from the oPt to Israel and other countries. Movement limitations have increased and changed forms as the years passed by.
Movement is a prerequisite for accessing basic needs such as healthcare, education and government institutions; work places; maintaining social, cultural and family connections etc. The Israeli army (IDF) has ordered prolonged, systematic movement restrictions, with permanent characteristics. These restrictions impact most aspects of Palestinian life and violate many of their basic rights and benefits under international law.
Overview of the history of movement restrictions:
- 1967-1991: Movement was relatively relaxed. At the outbreak of the first Intifada in 1987, movement became more difficult and in 1988 the it has for the first time cut off the Gaza Strip from the West Bank.
- 1991-2000: Starting in the Gulf War, the IDF used the permit system more vigorously. Every Palestinian had to obtain an individual permit, contrary to general permits that applied to the population as a whole. Criteria for getting a permit were not published. In 1993, military checkpoints were established along the Green Line – The 1949 Armistice Line between the West Bank and Israel; between the West Bank and East Jerusalem; and following the Oslo Agreements between Areas B and C. Curfews on Palestinian localities were frequently ordered. A system of bypass roads was constructed on seized Palestinian land to facilitate access between Israeli settlements without passing through Palestinian localities. Movement to and from Jerusalem to the rest of the West Bank, and from the Gaza Strip became more difficult and required permits as well.
To Wikipedia with more information about the 1949 armistice agreement
Read more about the Oslo Agreements
Read more about settlements
- 2000-2002: From the beginning of the second Intifada until the construction of the Wall started, the IDF stepped up further movement restrictions. Physical blockades were set up by the IDF between different Palestinian localities and for long periods permits were invalid and movement was forbidden. Movement of Israeli citizens into West Bank Palestinian cities was forbidden for the first time.
Read more about the Wall
- 2002 – present (October 2009): The closure policy has tightened and the entry of Palestinian workers into Israel has substantially decreased. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) the peak of movement restrictions took place in January 2004, with 763 closures in the West Bank consisting of military checkpoints, partial military checkpoints, earth mounds, earth walls, trenches, roadblocks and road gates. The IDF increased its use of "flying" (random) military checkpoints.
To OCHA – the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs with updated information about movement restrictions
Two separate road systems
According to B'Tselem, in February 2007 there were 17 roads in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip that were completely prohibited for Palestinians, 10 roads that were partially prohibited and 14 roads on which Palestinian travel was restricted. Two separate road systems have been created, one for Israelis and one for Palestinians.
To B'Tselem's website
Due to the construction of the Wall far from the Green Line some Palestinians found themselves caged between the Wall and the Green Line, in an area called "seam zone", "closed area" or "buffer zone". Following October 2003 the residents of the "closed area" are required by the IDF to obtain a special type of permit, usually referred to as "green permit". This, in order to allow them to move in and out of the "closed area" through passages in the Wall. The gates do not operate regularly and appropriately.
A Wall in the Jerusalem area was also constructed and is known as the “Jerusalem Envelope”.
To the B'Tselem information sheet: Forbidden Roads: Israel's Discriminatory Road Regime (1,8 MB)
Human Rights analysis
International human rights law is applicable to the territory of a state but also extends to any territory which is under its effective jurisdiction, even if it is outside its borders.
Since the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) is under Israeli effective control international human rights covenants that Israel signed and ratified apply to the oPt as well.
Read more about the closure policy and international human rights law