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Jordan urged to lift restrictions on Palestinian travellers

Gazans leaving the strip must travel via West Bank, Jordan or Rafah crossing [AFP]

Date of publication: 16 May, 2016

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Human Rights Watch has called on Jordan to lift its recent restrictions on Palestinians transiting in the country, but Amman has denied such allegations.

A leading human rights organisation has urged Jordan to lift restrictions on Palestinians travelling through its territory from the Gaza Strip, but Amman has denied any policy change.

Human Rights Watch suggested 58 Palestinians who requested “Jordanian permission to transit had been rejected or that they had received no answer" between August 2015 and January 2016.

Refusals were virtually non-existent previously, HRW said as it called on Amman to facilitate transit for Gaza residents.

"Palestinians from Gaza have found it increasingly difficult to get permission to transit through Jordan to travel abroad, without any explanation for the change," HRW's Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson wrote in a letter to the Jordanian authorities.

It called on Jordan to facilitate transit for Gaza residents, urging Amman to "ensure that their decisions are transparent, are not arbitrary and take into consideration the human rights of those affected".

Jordanian authorities denied that Amman's policy has changed.

"There is no change in Jordan's policy relating to the transit of our Palestinian brothers, including those in Gaza," a government source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The source said that "11,116 Gazans entered or transited Jordan in 2015".

"Freedom of travel for Gazans is primarily the responsibility of Israel and Egypt," the source added.

Jordan's government spokesman Mohamed Momani said "we continue to help (the Palestinians) on all levels, including freedom of movement."

"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," he added.

Since 2006, Israel has enforced a land, air and sea blockade on the Gaza strip – now described as the world’s largest open air prison.

Up to 100 Gazans, mostly students and businessmen have been allowed to travel abroad via the West Bank and Jordan since Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah border crossing south of the Gaza strip.

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