Freedom of Movement
Moving freely - a universal right

Freedom of movement is a universal right to every human being. Everyone has the right to leave any country including his own, and has the right to return to his country. Furthermore everybody has the right to move within its own country.

But Palestinians face restricting Israeli measures such as roadblocks, checkpoints and the separation barrier as well as arbitrary and punitive practices of closures within the Westbank. When they want to travel from their hometown – even just to Jerusalem - they are confronted with discriminative profiling and their application for permits is refused.

Within the West Bank some 3.5 million Palestinians face 506 closures (as of 23 June 2010) which can be checkpoints, partial checkpoints, road gates, road blocks, earth mounds, trenches, road barriers or earth walls. Furthermore forbidden roads exist which are only for the use of settlers or with restrictions on Palestinian use. The consequence is that nobody ever knows, when he arrives, when he starts to reach a destination within the West Bank. These obstacles hinder significantly the daily lives of Palestinians in commerce, in access to medical treatment and educational institutions. A 2007 World Bank report concluded that the West Bank "is experiencing severe and expanding restrictions on movement and access, high levels of unpredictability and a struggling economy."

Furthermore the separation barrier created several “closed-in areas” where at the moment 7,800 people live surrounded by the wall. In many cases they can’t reach their farmland anymore – beside through one of the few gates in the wall, for which they need a permit – and lose therefore also their livelihood. Once, when the wall is completed, even 33,200 Palestinians will live in closed in areas without the possibility to move freely.

But not just inside the West Bank the movement is restricted.

Since the blockade on Gaza in 2007, Israel almost completely forbids the movement of Palestinians between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Following the 1967 war, the occupied Palestinian Territories were proclaimed closed military zones. In 1972, general exit orders were issued which allowed moving freely between the West Bank, Israel and Gaza. In 1991, these general exit orders, which applied to the population as a whole, were revoked, and personal exit permits were set in place. An overall closure of the occupied Palestinian Territories was enacted for the first time in 1993.

If Palestinians from the West Bank want to leave the territories, no matter if to Jerusalem, Israel or abroad, they need to apply for a permit. Though, after a time-consuming and humiliating process the permit application is often rejected.

Related Items

• Following a petition of the Society of St. Yves • Moving freely - a universal right • The legal framework
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