The three-member Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories has concluded a three-day field visit to Egypt in which they talked with Palestinian residents from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Israeli citizens, Egyptian officials and the League of Arab States.
It is the first leg of a regional tour that will continue with visits by the committee to Jordan and Syria from tomorrow until 5 June.
The committee said today that in reaching its preliminary conclusions, it had relied on the communications it had received and the consultations held during the visit, including some by telephone as some witnesses from Gaza were prevented from travelling to Cairo.
According to testimony received by the committee, the closure of border crossings to and from Gaza has resulted in a drastic deterioration of the economic and social situation, with rising unemployment and poverty levels and restrictions on or shortages of food, water, electricity and fuel.
Committee members said they were especially concerned about the human rights and welfare of children, which comprise about half of the estimated 1.5 million people in Gaza.
In addition, several witnesses told the committee that the separation barrier and what they said were seemingly arbitrary rules and policies concerning closures restricted the right of Palestinians to freedom of movement and many other rights, such as to health, food, work, family life and an adequate standard of living.
Testimony was also given on Israeli settlements policy, the confiscation of land and house demolitions in East Jerusalem.