Israel bans Amnesty, HRW from entering Gaza Strip

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Israel has banned Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) representatives from entering the besieged Gaza Strip in order to launch their investigations into the Israeli onslaught on the coastal enclave.

Media reports said on Monday that both human rights organizations have been trying to obtain permission to enter Gaza since July 7.

The reports said that the grounds for the ban are that the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing is closed, and that neither group is registered with the Israeli Social Affairs Ministry as a humanitarian aid organization.

However, Erez was open throughout most of Israel’s deadly attacks on Gaza which started on July 8.

Amnesty is said to have held talks with Israeli authorities. Israel has said that only the UN agencies can be registered with the Foreign Ministry, and that the human rights group does not “meet the criterion set” by the Social Affairs Ministry for a humanitarian aid organization.

The group has asked several European foreign ministries to raise the issue with Israeli diplomats and the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

The Amnesty and HRW had hoped to send researchers to the Gaza Strip during the offensive, accompanied by weapons and munitions experts with military backgrounds.

HRW investigators have been banned from entering Gaza via the Erez crossing since 2006, while Amnesty’s employees have been barred since June 2012.

At least 2,016 Palestinians, including 540 children, have lost their lives and as many as 10,193 others have suffered injuries since July 8.

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas and Israel had agreed on the extension of a 72-hour truce for five more days late on August 13. The five-day truce is due to expire Monday at midnight.

MR/AB

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