West Bank: 'Shocking' restrictions imposed on foreign entry to occupied territory, says report
Israel has introduced a "confusing, complex and arbitrary" set of restrictions on foreign entry into the occupied West Bank, often based on racial and ethnic profiling, according to a new report.
In a press release published on Tuesday, the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) said an array of new procedures introduced by Israel in 2022 - collectively named COGAT 22 - have stood to entrench the military occupation of the West Bank and deny access to millions of Palestinians in the diaspora.
Under the regulations, foreign passport holders - including Palestinians living abroad - will also no longer be able to obtain visas on arrival and instead have to apply for them at least 45 days in advance, the ICJP report said.
In most cases, foreigners visiting the West Bank will no longer be able to arrive via Israel's main airport near Tel Aviv, and will instead be required to enter through the land crossing between Jordan and the West Bank.
The new rules do not apply to those visiting Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank.
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The London-based ICJP said the reforms included "shocking mass surveillance tactics" that allowed the Israeli authorities to record personal data including the names and national ID numbers of relatives of those entering the occupied territory.
In a statement, ICJP co-director Tayab Ali described the new restrictions as a "bureaucratic nightmare designed to tie people’s ankles together with red tape".
“COGAT 22 is a draconian development that is designed to disrupt people’s lives, strip people of their rights and segregate people from one another. It is a classic tactic of divide and conquer, and an entrenchment of Israeli apartheid. However, these new regulations simply formalise a reality that Palestinian people have been forced to live with for years," he said.
"It cuts West Bank Palestinians off from the rest of the world, so it is imperative that the international community holds Israel accountable for these arbitrary and discriminatory restrictions on the exercise of people’s rights."
COGAT refers to the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories and is the body that has run Israel's activities in the occupied Palestinian territories since 1981.
The ICJP report called on the Israeli government to conduct a review of its policies and its non-compliance with international law.
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