Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor / November 29,2021
Executive summary – Israel began tightening restrictions on the movement of Palestinians to and from the Palestinian territories since the first Palestinian uprising in 1987, when it abolished the so-called “general exit permit,” through which Palestinians used to travel between the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Israel. During the Second Intifada in 2000, Palestinians needed an Israeli permit to travel outside of and within the Palestinian territories. However, during the past decade, Israel has tightened these procedures in an unprecedented manner. The process of obtaining a travel permit requires long, bureaucratic procedures that may extend to weeks or months and are often denied.
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Palestinian journalists, in particular, face more severe restrictions, as dozens of them are banned from travel and movement for their work. The restrictions and decisions issued against Palestinian journalists increased during and after specific political or security events and in conjunction with their publishing reports, photos, or videos – through traditional or social media – documenting Israeli violations or criticizing Israeli policies.
In 2021 alone, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor documented 16 complaints by Palestinian journalists in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. All of them said that the Israeli authorities prevented them from traveling or restricted their right to freedom of movement. However, data collected by Euro-Med Monitor indicate that the number of Palestinian journalists who are banned from traveling as a punishment for their work is estimated at dozens.
The Israeli restrictions are not limited to denying Palestinian journalists to travel outside the Palestinian territories. After traveling abroad, journalists may face restrictions on their right to return or decisions preventing them from entering the Palestinian territories altogether.
Euro-Med Monitor documented cases in which the Israeli intelligence service and the Israeli General Security Service (Shin Bet) extorted Palestinian journalists over their right to freedom of movement and travel. Some of the journalists that Euro-Med Monitor interviewed said that Israeli officers told them that the travel ban against them could only be removed if they work or cooperate with the Israeli intelligence in providing sensitive security information about Palestinians. In other cases, Israeli officers promised journalists to lift the ban if they gave up their journalistic work or stopped working for certain media outlets.
The Israeli authorities impose illegal and unjustified restrictions on the movement and travel of Palestinian journalists to punish them for their journalistic work in contravention of Israel’s obligation as the occupying power.
The Israeli authorities should grant Palestinian journalists the right to freedom of movement to and from the Palestinian territories and within their cities without restrictions. If there were an exceptional case that calls for specific security restrictions, the Israeli authorities must handle it separately in accordance with the provisions of international law.
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