Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International renewed a call to Israel on Wednesday to allow the groups access to Gaza via the Israeli-controlled border, saying in a joint press release that the resumption of fighting makes it more important than ever for their investigators to monitor the situation.
“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 mounts,” Anne FitzGerald, Amnesty International’s director of Research and Crisis Response, said in the release.
At least 2,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 7. More than 10,000 Gazans have been injured and half a million internally displaced. On the Israeli side, 64 soldiers have died in combat and three civilians have been killed by rocket attacks on Israeli cities. Both sides have been accused of violating the laws of war during the most deadly conflict between Israel and the occupied Gaza Strip since Hamas took power in 2007.
The rights groups said they want to send researchers into the territory to assess competing claims, and that Israel should not interfere with such independent investigations.
“The victims’ and the public’s right to know about what happened during the 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,” FitzGerald said.
Amnesty said it has submitted three applications for a permit to enter Gaza through the Israeli-controlled Erez Crossing to Israel’s civil administration since July 7. While the administration said each time that it could not process the requests because the border was closed, journalists, United Nations staff, and others with permits had entered Gaza through Erez during the same period, Amnesty reported.
The group then unsuccessfully requested assistance from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.