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This
report, which is part of a series of reports released by the Palestinian Centre
for Human Rights (PCHR), addresses the state of Gaza’s border crossings used
both for the movement of persons and the movement of goods during the period between
1 and 30 April 2011. It highlights the impact of the continued siege, imposed
by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), on civilians’ lives in Gaza Strip and on
their economic and social condition. It refutes IOF’s claims of alleviating the
siege which has been imposed for the fifth consecutive year. During the 30-day
reporting period, PCHR documented the most significant events relating to the
state of Gaza’s border crossings summarized as follows:

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·IOF have tightened their stranglehold on the Gaza Strip and made
Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing Gaza’s sole commercial crossing despite the
fact that this crossing is not appropriately equipped for commercial purposes both
in terms of its operational capacity and its remote location.

·IOF have also tightened their stranglehold on commercial
transactions to and from the Gaza Strip, including assuming total control of
imports and exports.

·The continued closure of al-Mentar (Karni) crossing, which was completely
closed on 2 March 2011, gave rise to a bitter situation and all economic and
commercial establishments located in Gaza’s industrial zone suspended their
activities as a result. It should be noted that al-Mentar crossing is the largest
crossing in the Gaza Strip in terms of its capacity to take in exports and
imports. The unjust decision to close the crossing was the culmination of a
number of decisions to close Gaza’s commercial crossings beginning with the
decision to completely close Sofa crossing, southeast of the Gaza Strip, at the
beginning of 2009. This in addition to the decision to completely close Nahal
Oz crossing, located east of Gaza City, at the beginning of 2010. The crossing
was utilized for the delivery of cooking gas and fuel supplies.

·Statistics mentioned in this report confirm the veracity of PCHR’s warning
approximately one year ago when Karm Abu Salem crossing was designated Gaza’s sole
commercial crossing, closing other border crossings utilized for the movement
of goods to and from Gaza. IOF claims it was to facilitate the movement of
goods and alleviate the conditions of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.

·Statistics also show a sharp decline in the number of truckloads
allowed into Gaza via Karm Abu Salem crossing which was closed for more than
half of the reporting period. Additionally, there was a sharp decline in the
volume of Gaza’s exports via the crossing.

·During the 30-day reporting period, IOF closed Karm Abu Salem
crossing for 16 days (53.33 percent of the reporting period). This exacerbated the
hardship of Gaza’s industrial, commercial and agricultural sectors and created
more obstacles in the face of the movement of the limited goods allowed to
enter Gaza via the crossing. These sectors incurred additional financial costs resulting
from an increase in the cost of transport. Karm Abu Salem crossing is a
distance from commercial and industrial centers in Gaza city. Gaza’s civilians
have also endured hardship resulting from price increases of some goods allowed
into Gaza via the crossing. Exporters of the limited quantities of agricultural
crops allowed via the crossing face additional financial costs when transporting
their crops.

·During April 2011, 2,660 truckloads (a daily average of 88
truckloads) were allowed to enter Gaza via Karm Abu Salem crossing. This number
represents 64 percent of the number of truckloads previously allowed into Gaza
before the closure of al-Mentar crossing at the beginning of March 2011. In
terms of the daily average of truckloads, it represents only 15 percent of the
amount allowed into Gaza prior tightening the siege of the Gaza Strip in June
2007 when approximately 570 truckloads were allowed in daily.

·Data shown in this report refutes IOF claims of alleviating the
siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. The majority of goods allowed into Gaza by IOF
are consumables. IOF continue to impose a complete ban on the delivery of raw
material with the exception of very limited quantities and items that do not
meet the minimum needs Gaza’s population. This is contrary to IOF claims of doubling
the number of truckloads allowed into Gaza.

·During April, IOF reduced the supply of cooking gas delivered to
Gaza through the repeated closure of Karm Abu Salem crossing. IOF completely closed
the crossing for 16 days during which time no cooking gas was allowed in. IOF opened
the crossing for 14 days to allow the delivery of 2,300 tons of cooking gas
(daily average of 76.6 tons representing 34percent of Gaza’s daily needs which
amount to 300 tons daily). For five months, the Gaza Strip has been affected by
a cooking gas crisis due to the complete closure of Nahal Oz crossing assigned
to the delivery of cooking gas and fuel supplies. Due to the limited
operational capacity of Karm Abu Salem. Thousands of empty cooking gas
canisters are accumulated in Gaza’s 29 cooking gas distribution stations.
Gaza’s civilian population needs to wait for more than three weeks for their cooking
gas needs to be met.

·Approximately 80 percent of Gaza’s civilians have continued to
depend on alimentary aid provided by UNRWA and other relief agencies. The numbers
of families living below the poverty line have continued to rise. Approximately
40 percent of Gaza’s manpower continues to experience permanent unemployment
resulting in the shutdown of the majority of Gaza’s economic establishments.

·IOF has continued to impose a total ban on the exportation of Gaza’s
products, especially industrial products, resulting in undermining any real
chance of reestablishing its economy. The situation has been aggravated by the
decision to make Karm Abu Salem Gaza’s sole commercial crossing. Its repeated
closure negatively impacted the limited quantities of Gaza’s exports during
April 2011.

·IOF allowed the export of limited quantities of flowers
representing only 11.2 percent of the quantities previously exported before the
closure of al-Mentar crossing. During the reporting period, IOF allowed the export
of 475,000 flowers while in March and February 2,152,000 and 4,054,000 flowers
respectively were exported.

·IOF totally banned the exportation of any other agricultural crops.
This refutes claims that they allowed the daily export of 10 truckloads
carrying agricultural products from the Gaza Strip. Between November 2010 and
the end of the reporting period, IOF allowed the export of 9.9 million flowers
out of 60 million flowers produced annually in the Gaza Strip. In 2005, the
Gaza Strip exported 70 truckloads of agricultural products daily.

·IOF continue to prolong the implementation of their decision to
allow the delivery of 60 small cars weekly into the Gaza Strip without
providing any justifications. 10 months have passed since IOF declared they
would allow the delivery of small cars after a three-year ban on car delivery.

 

 

·The month of April witnessed a decline in the number of cars
allowed into Gaza. IOF allowed the delivery of only 120 small cars whilst last
March, IOF allowed 180 cars into Gaza. Cars prices in Gaza have been on the
rise and there has been a severe shortage of spare parts.

·For approximately four consecutive years, IOF have continued to ban
the delivery of construction material to Gaza. During the reporting period, IOF
approved the delivery of limited quantities of construction material to
international organizations. In June 2010, as part of what IOF called the
easing of the siege, they allowed the delivery of approximately 158 tons of
construction aggregate, 1,890 tons of cement and 231 tons of iron bars for
UNRWA, UNDP, ANERA and Coastal Municipalities Water Utility.

·Data in this report shows that making Karm Abu Salem crossing the sole
commercial crossing of the Gaza Strip has resulted in the decline of the
quantity of cement delivered to international organizations. During the
reporting period, 1,890 tons of cement was allowed into Gaza compared to 2,940
tons allowed in March 2011 and 2,094 tons in February 2011. This represents a
decline of 35.7 percent and 9.7 percent respectively.

·Compared to previous periods, the reporting period also witnessed a
decline in the quantities of construction aggregate delivered to international
organizations. During April, IOF allowed the delivery of 158 tons of
construction aggregate. This represents 0.22 percent of the aggregate allowed
into Gaza in March (70,000 tons) and 0.58 percent of the aggregate delivered in
February (26,873 tons).

·Also compared to previous periods, April also witnessed a sharp
decline in the quantity of iron bars delivered to international organizations. IOF
allowed the delivery of 231 tons of iron bars. This represents 35 percent of
the aggregate allowed into Gaza in March (659 tons) and 24 percent of the
aggregate delivered in February (956 tons).

·Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing has been closed to Gaza’s civilians.
Only limited groups are allowed to move via the crossing amidst severe
restrictions including waiting for long hours. IOF closed the crossing to these
limited groups for nine days.

·IOF has also continued to reduce the number of patients from Gaza
allowed to access medical treatment from hospitals in Israel and/or the West
Bank and Jerusalem. A new category of patients from Gaza requiring hospital
access have been prevented from travelling via the crossing. IOF totally closed
the crossing to patients for nine days and partially opened it to allow the
movement of approximately 690 patients (23 patients per day on average). This represents
18.7 percent of the daily number of patients previously allowed to move via the
crossing during March 2011 and 56 percent of the daily average of patients previously
allowed to move via the crossing during the first half of 2006.

·IOF has continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of
journalists, diplomats and employees of international organizations to the Gaza
Strip. On the days it was open, IOF allowed the movement of approximately 50
journalists, 70 diplomats and 500 employees of international humanitarian
organizations. The movement of these groups was allowed amidst complicated
security measures including hindering the movement of many persons for several
days.

·Beit Hanoun crossing was also closed to Gaza merchants for 17 days.
On the days it was open, IOF allowed the movement of approximately 690
merchants (23 merchants per day on average). This number represents a severe
reduction (45.2 percent) compared to last month when 42 merchants were allowed
to move via the crossing daily (84.6%) compared to the period preceding June
2007 when IOF allowed the movement of approximately 150 merchants daily.

·For approximately 46 months, IOF has continued to deprive the families
of approximately 700 Palestinian prisoners from the Gaza Strip from visiting
their relatives in Israeli jails without providing any reason for this
unjustified measure, one which contradicts the rules of the international
humanitarian law.

·Rafah International Crossing Point remained open and Palestinians
from the Gaza Strip continued to travel via the crossing. During the reporting
period, 5,190 persons travelled abroad, 4,800 persons entered the Gaza Strip and
1,250 were turned back at the border by Egyptian authorities.


The full report is available here.