- Sick and Stuck in the Strip: How Leaving Gaza Became Mission Impossible
by Amira Hass, https://www.haaretz.com/
Less than 30 years ago, Palestinians could exit and enter the coastal enclave almost as they wished. That all changed in 1991, though, and things have only gotten more difficult since.
Gazans with life-threatening illnesses are currently fighting Israel to allow them to leave the coastal enclave. An Israeli directive that prevents those with alleged ties to Hamas from leaving the Strip for treatment was blocked by the High Court of Justice. But it is only the latest incident in the long history of movement restrictions imposed on Gaza. Here is how leaving Gaza became a rare privilege:
1. A closure is born
Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip used to be able to enter and exit the enclave as they wished, notwithstanding some travel restrictions introduced during the first intifada. However, in January 1991, Israel cancels the blanket exit permit allowing Palestinians from both Gaza and the West Bank to cross the Green Line. Instead, it introduces a system of personal permits issued according to certain criteria.
The number of permits and the criteria governing them have changed over the years, but the permits system remains intact to this day. If before 1991 the rule was that all Palestinians could exercise their right to freedom of movement between the river and the sea, with some exceptions (on alleged political and security grounds), the reverse is true today: All Palestinians are barred from freedom of movement, with some exceptions determined by Israel.