Otherwise Occupied / Access denied
A brief summary of how rules and regulations have been used to sever Gaza gradually, and almost completely, from the West Bank.
Defining a Palestinian with a Gaza Strip address as a punishable infiltrator if he is found in the West Bank - as implied by a military order that has now gone into effect - is one more link in a chain of steps that Israel has taken, whose cumulative effect is to sever the Strip from Palestinian society as a whole.
Space limitations prevent listing more than a sampling of these measures here. But even looking at them in abridged form can serve as a reminder that one needs to analyze every regulation of the military occupation in the context of its predecessors and their implementation on the ground. Indeed, this is what the legal experts at the organization Hamoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual did when they warned against the ramifications of the new Order No. 1650 regarding Prevention of Infiltration (Amendment No. 2).
The Israel Defense Forces permits Palestinians to move throughout the country (Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank), by means of a "general exit permit." The hope in Israel is that economic integration will cause national aspirations to be forgotten. But the unintended result is freedom of movement for all Palestinians. For the first time since 1948, the Palestinians throughout Israel and the territories experience themselves as one people living within the same borders, under the same regime. Family ties, work ties, friendships and school ties - all are forged and renewed on both sides of the Green Line.
The general rule: The right of all Palestinians to freedom of movement is respected, aside from certain categories determined by the Israeli authorities.
The first intifada: A magnetic card, valid for one year, is introduced in the Gaza Strip for those who have security clearance to enter Israel. In the absence of checkpoints, it is relatively easy to get around this restriction.
January 15, on the eve of the Gulf War: The general exit permit from the West Bank and Gaza Strip is cancelled. From now on individual permits are required.
Gazan students who are enrolled in studies in the West Bank do not receive permits to enter Israel, and cannot attend school. "Split" families (between the West Bank and Gaza) see each other less and less often, in the absence of permits.
The police conduct daily searches for Palestinian laborers in Israeli cities, and check whether they have valid permits for being in Israel (as the Worker's Hotline organization discovers, people are frequently considered permit violators even if they are caught in a movie theater or a cafeteria, instead of at the workplace listed on the permit. Hundreds are arrested and fined, although generally the policy is easy to circumvent. Also, the policy is not enforced in East Jerusalem, and people are convinced that there is no need for a permit to stay in their religious, cultural, and economic capital.
Peace talks are launched at the Madrid Conference.
March. A "general closure" is imposed on the territories (existing permits are revoked), after which the ban on leaving without individual permits is applied more stringently in East Jerusalem (which is why to this day West Bankers erroneously say that the actual closure policy began in March 1993).
September. The Declaration of Principles between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel stipulates that both sides recognize Gaza and the West Bank as a single territorial unit.
There is intensive construction at the northern exit of the Gaza Strip, which is transformed into a checkpoint that vets thousands of people a day. It is operated by the Civil Administration and the IDF. Other crossings in the Gaza Strip are shut down.
The closure becomes a permanent reality that exists to the present. The number of travel permits Israel grants changes occasionally, but the principle remains the same: Freedom of mobility is denied to all Palestinians, except for those who fall into in a number of categories that Israel determines (laborers, businessmen, patients, collaborators, Palestinian Authority officials, etc.)
May. Civil powers in Gaza are transferred from Israel to the Palestinians. A partial solution to the problem of exit permits is found: Gazans depart through the Rafah crossing, travel from there to Jordan, and enter the West Bank via the Allenby Bridge. This solution is used mainly by students and people with families in the West Bank.
October. The Interim Agreement (civil powers also transferred in the West Bank ). Clause 28 of the agreement stipulates that the Palestinians have the authority to change an address on the identity card, but the change must be reported to the Civil Administration.
Contrary to what is stated in the Oslo Accords, Israeli officers from the Civil Administration inform Palestinians that a change of address from Gaza to the West Bank requires Israeli authorization. Authorization is granted only to some of those who apply for a change of address, based on unknown criteria.
Gazans are barred from going abroad via the Allenby Bridge or from using it to enter the West Bank, without individual permits from Israel.
October. A "safe passage" between Gaza and the West Bank is introduced along one southern route.
End of September. The second intifada breaks out.
The safe passage is closed.
Israel bars Gazan students from attending school in the West Bank (the ban becomes clear retroactively, several years later).
Israel puts a freeze on change of addresses from Gaza to the West Bank.
Entry into the Gaza Strip of anyone who is not Gazan is reduced to a minimum (mainly in cases of deaths of first-degree relatives).
For the first time, the authorities declare Gazans in the West Bank to be illegal residents. Many are deported to Gaza having been incidentally discovered during IDF raids or when crossing checkpoints.
November. Army forces raid an apartment in Bir Zeit, near Ramallah, arrest and deport to Gaza four engineering students.
The "disengagement." Gaza Strip crossings are declared "international" crossings.
Departure from Gaza is permitted only in extreme humanitarian cases (and to those with connections in the PA).
For the first time since 1967, Israel institutes a permit giving permission to stay in the West Bank intended for Gazans in the West Bank (along the lines of the residence permit required of those who are in Israel). Many applications for the permit are declined. Thousands of Palestinians without permits are scared to go through internal West Bank checkpoints, lest they be caught and deported. They live like prisoners in their towns of residence.
March. The state declares that Palestinians from Gaza are not entitled to live in the West Bank. This is done by means of a new regulation that comes to light through Hamoked petitions to the High Court of Justice. The state is willing to process applications to reside in the West Bank only for the following groups: chronically ill patients who can only be treated in the West Bank; minors under 16 with only one parent who lives in the West Bank, and who do not have a relative to look after them in the Gaza Strip; people over 65 who require nursing care and do not have a caregiver available in the Strip. All others - those who are healthy, not orphans, not solitary old people in need of nursing care - do not have the right to live in the West Bank.
April. A military order goes into effect that defines anyone staying in the West Bank without a permit as an infiltrator and a punishable offender.