security fence 224.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Annapolis summit failed to address human rights issues in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute just as previous initiatives including Oslo failed before it, Donatella Rovera, chief researcher for Amnesty International on Israel and the Palestinians, told The Jerusalem Post Sunday.
Rovera, who is based in London, is currently on a routine fact-finding mission to the West Bank, Gaza and Israel.
"In the Oslo process, there were certain issues that were completely off the table, either because they were not there in principle or because no mechanisms were put in place to ensure their implementation," she said. "And obviously settlements are an important issue. I mentioned closures and restriction of movement a moment ago.
"Now these are consequences of the settlements. If you put a grid of where the closures, the forbidden roads, and the separation barrier are located over a map of the area, [you will see that] the location of all of them is determined by the location of the settlements. Clearly, as long as the settlements are there, the restrictions will not be lifted."
Rovera said a good example of this was Nablus, which is allegedly surrounded by Jewish settlements and regarding which the army has imposed severe travel restrictions on the residents of the city, three nearby refugee camps and 15 neighboring Palestinian villages.
Rovera said it was one thing to declare that there would be an easing of restrictions on movement and another to actually carry it out under these circumstances.
During her visit, Rovera told the Post, she has focused on two issues - the violation of human rights by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority against each other's supporters and Israel's refusal to allow close relatives of Palestinian detainees from Gaza to visit them.
Regarding the latter, Rovera said, "We published a report at the end of October specifically on human rights abuses committed by both Hamas and Fatah, particularly since last June, when Hamas began to run affairs in Gaza. The issue has not been solved. The human rights abuses continue on both sides."
As for prisoner visits, Rovera said Israel had completely stopped them in June, when Hamas drove Fatah out of Gaza.
"I don't know that the Israeli authorities have given any convincing or specific explanation for stopping the visits from the Gaza families," she said. "If you go back to earlier on in the intifada, when many Israelis were being killed by Palestinian armed groups and the situation was significantly worse, the Israeli authorities did not take such action."
Asked whether Israel is still the occupying power in Gaza despite the disengagement and withdrawal of forces two years ago, Rovera said Amnesty shared the international opinion that Israel still maintains "effective control" over the Gaza Strip. When asked how Israel could be considered in effective control when Israeli troops cannot safely patrol Gaza or prevent terrorist attacks, she replied: "Israeli forces go into Gaza quite often, and they choose the area where they will operate. In that respect, if you look back over the past few years, even before disengagement, you didn't have Israeli soldiers walking the streets anyway.
"The kind of operations we are seeing today is not that much different. Israeli troops were confined to military bases on the perimeter and in the settlements. Most of the fire against armed groups or civilians tended to come from those positions as well as when you had IDF incursions into different areas. So things haven't changed very much in that respect."
There is at the moment no spokesman for the Coordinator of Activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. A telephone message left for the spokesman went unanswered.
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