Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch released a statement Wednesday demanding Israel “immediately” allow them access to Gaza to investigate violations of international law by “all parties to the conflict”.
“The Israeli authorities appear to have been playing bureaucratic games with us over access to Gaza, conditioning it on entirely unreasonable criteria even as the death toll mounted,” Anne FitzGerald, Amnesty International’s Director of Research and Crisis Response was quoted in the statement.
Israeli authorities have repeatedly denied both groups’ requests to enter Gaza through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing. The groups also requested access into Gaza from the Egyptian authorities through the Egypt-controlled Rafah border crossing but were denied.
“The victims’ and the public’s right to know about what happened during the recent hostilities requires the Israeli authorities to ensure full transparency about their actions and to refrain from hindering independent and impartial research into all alleged violations.”
Israeli officials have told the rights groups they must be registered with Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, which the groups said is “virtually impossible” for them as the ministry only registers diplomats and UN personnel.
“If Israel is confident in its claim that Hamas is responsible for civilian deaths in Gaza, it shouldn’t be blocking human rights organisations from carrying out on-site investigations,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch was also quoted in the statement.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry was not available for comment at time of print.
In mid-August Egypt also denied Human Rights Watch entry into the country as they were due to release a report on the Egyptian security forces’ dispersal of the Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-in.