oPt

oPt: IOF prevent 100 international academics and human rights activists from entering Gaza

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The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the decision taken by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) to prevent some 100 international academics and human rights activists from entering Gaza via Beit Hanoon (Erez) crossing to participate in an international conference organized by Gaza Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP) in cooperation with World Health Organization (WHO). PCHR views the IOF's decision as a qualitative step that constitutes a form of collective punishment against 1.7 millions Palestinian civilians and further reinforces their isolation and the siege imposed on them through preventing all international delegations from entering Gaza to report on the humanitarian crisis and daily suffering of the civilian population due to ever deteriorating economic and social conditions.

WHO and GCMHP who are organizing the international conference on the siege and mental health in the Gaza Strip, which is scheduled to be held on 27 and 28 October 2008, submitted to IOF lists of some 100 international participants, including academics, physicians, researchers, human rights activists and representatives of civil society organization from all over the world. The lists were submitted a month ago to make necessary procedures to allow the international participants to enter Gazaand participate in the conference.

PCHR views the IOF's decision to prevent international participants from entering Gaza to participate in this important conference not only as a serious violation of the right to freedom of movement, but also a serious violation of the right to academic freedoms, the right to acquire knowledge, the right to freedom of expression and of cultural rights. Such unjustifiable prevention aims at cutting off all forms of communication between the Gaza Strip and the outside world, and maintaining isolation and strangulation of the Palestinian civilian population causing further deterioration to humanitarian conditions.

PCHR calls upon the international community, including the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention OF 1949, to promptly and urgently intervene to ensure IOF's agreement to allow internationals to enter Gaza, stop all forms of collective punishment, and lift the siege imposed on the Palestinian civilian population.

For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8 2824776 - 2825893
PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip. E-mail: pchr@pchrgaza.org, Webpage http://www.pchrgaza.org