Israeli video game distorts ban on West Bank-Gaza movement

Thursday, June 24, 2010 |  Ryan Jones

Israeli video game company Gisha has produced an online interactive game called "Safe Passage" that grossly distorts the current restrictions on movement for Palestinian Arabs between the West Bank and Gaza.

As the game begins, the player is asked to choose the role of either a Gaza businessman, a student in Gaza City or a Gaza man who has married a West Bank woman and now lives there with his family.

In all three scenarios, the player is constantly presented with harsh restrictions on movement and relocation that make running a business, going to school or maintaining a family nearly impossible. For instance, if the player chooses to be the Palestinian father from Gaza, he soon finds himself ejected from the West Bank and sent back to Gaza by the Israeli military. Separated from his wife and young son, the player then tries to find legal arguments to persuade the Israelis to allow the family to be together again, but is sadly rebuffed at every turn.

Each time the Israeli military rejects the arguments, a small portion of a relative legal decision is presented. The text shown is carefully selected to make Israel appear as an uncaring oppressor that arbitrarily restricts the movement of Palestinians.

What the game does not reveal to players is that prior to the outbreak of the "second intifada" - the latest Palestinian terrorist uprising - in 2000 there was very little restriction on movement or relocation between the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinians from both territories even freely working inside Israel proper. It was only after Palestinian terrorists began exploiting the lack of restrictions on movement to gun down, blow up or otherwise murder Israeli civilians en masse that the military implemented such security measures.

International law supports such measures. While it is required to grant residents of one territory freedom of movement to reach another territory where they may work, study or have family, that freedom can be severely restricted should those making use of it pose a threat to the residents of the territory they are passing through. [nternational Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 12(3)]

It should also be noted that prior to 1967, it was no easier than it is today for residents of the Egypt-controlled Gaza Strip to relocate to the Jordan-controlled West Bank, or vice versa. That Gaza and the West Bank comprise a single territorial entity and that their people are the same "nation" is a very recent historical phenomenon.

According to the Gisha website, the development of "Safe Passage" was fully funded by the European Union.

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