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HRW urges Jordan to ease transit for Gazans

16 May 2016 20:20



The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Jordanian government to ease the travel of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip through its soil amid reports of new restrictions imposed by Amman.

HRW’s Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson on Monday expressed regret in a letter to the Jordanian authorities that “Palestinians from Gaza have found it increasingly difficult to get permission to transit through Jordan to travel abroad, without any explanation for the change.”

Based on reports provided by rights campaigners in the occupied Palestinian territories, Jordanian officials have either rejected to ignored some requests from the residents of Gaza for travelling through Jordan between August 2015 and January 2016.

Since Egypt’s closure of Rafah crossing, Gaza’s only access point to the outside world, the regime in Tel Aviv has allowed up to 100 Gazans, mostly students and businessmen, to transit the occupied territories every week to travel abroad via the West Bank and Jordan.

HRW’s letter said Jordan had until recently helped to facilitate such travel, but “since August 2015, individuals, lawyers, and human rights organisations have found that such requests have largely been refused by Jordan or received no response.”

The New York-based rights group urged Jordan to “ensure that their decisions are transparent, are not arbitrary, and take into consideration the human rights of those affected.”

Officials in Amman, however, denied any change in previous policies, with a source close to the government saying “the transit of our Palestinian brothers, including those in Gaza,” has seen no problem in recent months. He added that “11,116 Gazans entered or transited Jordan in 2015.”

Jordan blamed Israel for restrictions.

“The solution to all these problems is an end to Israeli settlements and the creation of a Palestinian state so the Palestinian people… can enjoy all of their rights,” government spokesman Mohamed Momani said, adding, “We continue to help (the Palestinians) on all levels, including freedom of movement.”

Gaza, a Palestinian enclave on the Mediterranean, has been under a crippling land, air and sea blockade since 2006. Under pressure from Israel, Egypt has imposed tough restrictions on the crossing over the past two years.

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