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Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have
continued to close all border crossings of the Gaza Strip, including those used
for civilian movement. No changes have
taken place throughout the 16-day reporting period. Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing remained closed
throughout the reporting period except for very limited categories of persons,
and restrictions were imposed on the these persons, including 440 patients suffering
from serious health conditions who transferred to the hospitals in Israel and/or
in the West Bank, 70 international journalists, 50 diplomats and 240 workers of
international humanitarian organizations. 
These persons passed via the crossing only under very complicated
security procedures. IOF did not allow even these categories to pass via the
crossing on 3 days. Rafah International
Crossing Point on the Egyptian border was exceptionally opened on 6 days—after
73 days of complete closure—for the movement of civilians from the Gaza Strip. According to information available to PCHR,
5,653 out of 8,000 Palestinian previously stranded in the Gaza Strip, who were
registered in the Ministry of Interior, passed through the crossing. The
majority of those stranded persons were patients in dire need of medical
treatment abroad, students enrolled in universities abroad,
people working abroad, and
holders of residency permits
in foreign countries
. In addition, 1,009 persons were allowed into the Gaza Strip and 951 were
denied access by the Egyptian authorities and returned to the Gaza Strip.

 

IOF have continued to impose
restrictions on the Gaza Strip’s border crossings, as Sofa crossing and Nahal
Oz crossing have remained completely closed since 2008 and the beginning of
January 2010, respectively. Exports of
the Gaza Strip were banned during the reporting period, while limited
quantities of basic goods and humanitarian aid were allowed into the Gaza Strip
via Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing, which is considered the major and
sole commercial crossing of the Gaza Strip. IOF also allowed the entry of a limited quantity of construction
materials into the Gaza Strip for the first time, including 330 tons of cement,
552 tons of aggregate and 10 tons of iron for UNRWA projects and for reconstructing
al-Quds hospital, which was targeted during the latest Israeli offensive on the
Gaza Strip. These quantities
respectively represent 11%, 22% and 0.5% of the daily requirement for these
materials in the Gaza Strip under normal conditions (3,000 tons of cement,
2,500 tons of aggregate and 2,000 tons of iron
).

 

Due to the ongoing economic and
social blockade imposed on more than 1.5 million Palestinians, poverty and
unemployment rates have risen to unprecedented levels, living conditions have
deteriorated, basic goods are unavailable, and prices have spiraled,
particularly, those of materials needed for construction works. The ban on materials needed for
construction—now approaching 3 years—has aggravated the suffering of the
Palestinian people, as they are in a dire need to reconstruct and repair their
houses and civilian property destroyed by IOF during the latest Israeli
offensive on the Gaza Strip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following is a summary of the
most significant developments relevant to Gaza’s border crossings during the 16-day
reporting period (16 – 31 May 2010):

 

· Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing

 

The reporting period witnessed
severe restrictions imposed by IOF on the movement of all categories of persons
attempting to travel via Beit Hanoun crossing, including: patients suffering
from serious health conditions
, Arabs holding Israeli ID, international
journalists, workers of international humanitarian organizations, and those
wishing to travel abroad via al-Karama International Crossing Point

on the Jordanian border. IOF had
completely closed the crossing on 3 days and significantly reduced the number
of international journalists, who were allowed to pass via the crossing. The most significant developments relevant to
movement through Beit Hanoun crossing were as follows:

 

§ IOF completely closed the crossing for the movement of most
Palestinian civilians throughout the 16-day reporting period. The crossing was completely closed on 3 days
for the limited categories that were allowed to travel via the crossing. In addition, it was closed on 7 days for
businesspeople and opened on only 9 days, during which time 30 businesspeople
were allowed to pass via the crossing, an average of less than 2 businesspeople
daily. This represents a sharp decline in comparison with the number of
businesspeople who were allowed to travel via the crossing 11 months ago, when an
average of 10 businesspeople
were allowed to pass through the
crossing daily. It should be noted that
approximately 150 businesspeople were allowed to travel daily via the crossing
prior to June 2007.

 

§ Patients’ Conditions: IOF closed the crossing for
patients from the Gaza Strip who were being transferred to hospitals in
Israel and/or Palestinian ones in the West Bank
on 3 days. During the partial opening of the crossing,
only 440 patients were allowed to pass through the crossing, an average of 28
patients daily; this represents 56% of the number of patients compared to the
first half of 2006. According to some
reports, Palestinian patients are being blackmailed by members of the General
Security Service (GIS), as some patients stated that GIS interrogators make use
of their serious health conditions to pressurize them and give those
interrogators information relevant to security matters. As a result, some patients were denied access
to hospitals, which aggravated their health conditions.

 

§ Journalists, Diplomats and Workers of International
Humanitarian Organizations
: IOF imposed a ban on the entry of
journalists, media representatives, diplomats, and workers of international
humanitarian organizations on 7 days. During the days in which the crossing was open, IOF allowed approximately 70 journalists, 50
diplomats and 240 workers of international humanitarian
organizations
to enter the Gaza Strip, often under very complicated
security procedures which result in delays of several days for many of those
allowed to enter.

 

 

 

 

§ Prisoners’ Visitation: For more than 35 months, IOF have banned
family visitation for Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who are detained in
Israeli jails.  There are approximately 800
Palestinians from the Gaza Strip detained in Israeli jails, and such denial of
family visitation, imposed since 6 June 2007, constitutes a violation of
international humanitarian law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention of
1949.  It is should be noted that 150 of
the prisoners from the Gaza Strip had already been deprived of all visitation
rights prior to June 2007. IOF attempt
to justify such deprival of visitation rights by citing security claims. The prison visitation program had been
facilitated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) until it was
suspended by Israel.

 

· Rafah International Crossing Point

 

During the 16-day reporting period,
Rafah International Crossing Point remained closed on 11 days. The total period during which Rafah
International Crossing Point has been closed is now 991 days since it was
closed by IOF on 12 June 2007. It was
opened on Saturday, 15 May 2010, for 6 days for travelers of limited categories
in both directions, including patients, students enrolled at universities
abroad, people working abroad, and holders of residency permits in foreign
countries. The crossing was opened after
73 days of complete and continuous closure for Palestinians wishing to travel
from the Gaza Strip, which had resulted in a sharp increase in the number of
persons struck in the Gaza Strip and registered in the Ministry of Interior to
more than 8,000 persons; 6,000 of whom being students and holders of residency
permits in foreign countries and more than 2,000 patients in a dire need of
medical treatment abroad. During the
days in which the crossing was open, 5,653 persons traveled via the crossing;
1,009 were allowed into the Gaza Strip while 951 persons were banned from
traveling by the Egyptian authorities returned to the Gaza Strip. As reported
by the Department of Crossings and Borders to a researcher of the Palestinian
Center for Human Rights (PCHR), the movement at the crossing was as follows:

 

 On 15 May 2010, 959 persons were allowed to travel to Egypt,
123 were allowed into the Gaza Strip and 264 persons were prevented from
traveling by the Egyptian authorities and returned to the Gaza Strip

 On 16 May 2010, 1,173 persons were allowed to travel to
Egypt, 195 were allowed into the Gaza Strip and 146 persons were banned from
traveling by the Egyptian authorities and returned to the Gaza Strip.

 On 17 May 2010, 848 persons were allowed to travel to Egypt,
148 were allowed into the Gaza Strip and 140 persons were prevented from traveling
by the Egyptian authorities and returned to the Gaza Strip.

 On 18 May 2010, 847 persons were allowed to travel to Egypt,
26 were allowed into the Gaza Strip and 106 persons were prevented from
traveling by the Egyptian authorities and returned to the Gaza Strip.

 On 19 May 2010, 912 persons were allowed to travel to Egypt,
103 were allowed into the Gaza Strip and 156 persons were prevented from
traveling by the Egyptian authorities and returned to the Gaza Strip.

 On 20 May 2010, 914 persons were allowed to travel to Egypt,
414 were allowed into the Gaza Strip and 139 persons were prevented from
traveling by the Egyptian authorities and returned to the Gaza Strip.

 

 

 

It should be noted that during the
closure of the Rafah crossing point, the Egyptian authorities allow from time
to time some limited categories of persons to pass through the crossing for
humanitarian reasons. During the
reporting period, 700 persons, including people struck in Egypt and patients who
had received medical treatment in Egyptian hospitals were allowed to travel
back to the Gaza Strip. These categories
were allowed to pass through the crossing point in groups on Wednesdays and
Thursdays. On 21 May 2010, a seven-member
American Reconciliation delegation was allowed to enter the Gaza Strip and, on
28 May 2010, a
15-member European parliamentary delegation was also allowed to enter the Gaza
Strip to observe the humanitarian situation and the suffering of the
Palestinian people due to the ongoing siege imposed by Israel on the Gaza
Strip, in addition to discussing ways of distributing financial aid offered by
the EU for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. The delegation arrived in the Gaza Strip
after coordination with the UNRWA and UN agencies working in Gaza. During the reporting period, 100 persons were
allowed to travel to Egypt, including the American and European delegations,
after finishing their missions in the Gaza Strip.

 

· Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) Crossing

 

During the reporting period, Karm
Abu Salem crossing was partially opened on 10 days (62.5%), while it was
completely closed on 6 days (37.5%). Karm
Abu Salem crossing has been closed on 496 days since 18 August 2008, when the
crossing was reopened and designated by Israel as the Gaza Strip’s major
commercial crossing. According to the
Ministry of Economy, the following are the most significant developments
related to the crossing during the reporting period:

 

· During the days in which the crossing was partially opened,
IOF allowed the entry of 850 truckloads of humanitarian relief, including food,
blankets and medications provided by international humanitarian aid
organizations, including: WFP, ICRC, UNRWA, UNICEF, and the Humanitarian Aid
Office of the EU.  Food items for local
businesses were also allowed into the Gaza Strip via the crossing while it was partially
opened.

 

· IOF allowed the entry of 250 truckloads of clothes, shoes
and refrigerators which belong to Palestinian businesspeople that had been
blocked in Israeli ports for 3 years. Most of these goods had been damaged due to the prolonged storage in
poor conditions. IOF allowed the import of 1,500 glass sheets, which does not
meet even the minimal level of the need of Gaza’s civilian population. Aluminum
and wood were not allowed into the Gaza Strip, contrary to Israeli claims made
two months ago that they would do so. 

 

· During the reporting period, IOF allowed the entry of
limited quantities of construction materials into the Gaza Strip for the first
time, including: 330 tons of cement, 552
tons of aggregate and 10 tons of iron which were allowed for UNRWA projects and
the reconstruction of the al-Quds hospital, which was targeted during the
latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip. These quantities respectively represent 11%, 22% and 0.5% of the daily
requirement for these materials in the Gaza Strip under normal conditions
(3,000 tons of cement, 2,500 tons of

 

 

aggregate and 2,000 tons of
iron). It should be noted that IOF had
previously banned the entry of the construction materials for 3 years, although
they have previously allowed the entry of limited quantities for UNRWA.

 

· Fuel: Following the complete closure of Nahal Oz crossing, which
was used for the delivery of fuel supplies into the Gaza Strip, IOF opened Karm
Abu Salem crossing for the delivery of limited quantities of fuel,  which did not meet the minimal level of the
needs of the Gaza Strip’s civilian population. The fuel crisis, which emerged 2 years ago, is still ongoing. As reported by the General Department of
Petroleum
to a PCHR researcher, the delivery of fuel to the Gaza
Strip during the reporting period was as follows: 

 

· IOF completely stopped supplying the Gaza Strip with the
industrial fuel necessary for the operation of Gaza Power Plant on 6 days. On
the days in which the crossing was open,
they allowed the entry of 2.5 millions liters of industrial fuel into the Gaza
Strip, a quantity that sufficed to operate the Plant at less
than 45% of its capacity. It should be
noted that the Gaza Strip depends on three sources of power: the Gaza Power
Plant, which provides 67-70 mw (34%); Israel, which provides 120 mw (58,5%);
and Egypt, which provides 17.5 mw.

· Limited quantities of cooking gas were allowed into the Gaza
Strip on 10 days, amounting to 2,000 tons, an average of 125 tons daily. The
supply of cook gas to the Gaza Strip was stopped completely on 6 days. It should be noted that the Gaza Strip’s
daily requirement of cooking gas amounts to 350 tons in winter and 200 tons in
summer.

· During the reporting period, 45,000 liters of
benzene were allowed into the Gaza Strip, a quantity that does not even meet
the requirements of the civilian population there for a single day, which was 120,000 liters daily
before the Israeli decision to reduce the quantities of fuel supplies in
October 2007.

· During the reporting period, the supply of diesel was
stopped. It should be noted that before
making the decision to reduce the quantities of fuel supplies in October 2007
,
Israel allowed the delivery of 350,000 liters of diesel daily. The Gaza Strip currently depends on the fuel
smuggled through tunnels at the Egyptian-Palestinian borders.

 

· Al-Mentar (Karni) Crossing

 

As reported by the Ministry of
Economy to a PCHR researcher, al-Mentar crossing was completely closed for the
movement of goods from and to the Gaza Strip on 12 days (75%) and it was
partially opened to allow limited quantities of imports on 4 days (25%). During the partial opening of the crossing,
IOF allowed the entry of 200 trucks carrying 7,500 tons of grains and 195 trucks
carrying 7,600 tons of fodders into the
Gaza Strip. 

 

The number of days which the
al-Mentar crossing has been completely closed is now 791 days since 13 June 2007, following Hamas’
takeover of the Gaza Strip. Closing the
crossing has resulted into deterioration of humanitarian conditions in the Gaza
Strip and negative impacts on 1.5 million civilians in the Gaza Strip.

 

 

 

 

Recommendations:

 

PCHR calls upon the international
community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva
Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, to:

 

1. Exert effective pressure on Israel to compel it to open all
of Gaza’s crossings, both those used for commercial purposes and those used for
civilian movement, to allow the civilian population of the Gaza Strip to
reconstruct the civilian property that was destroyed during Israel’s latest
offensive on Gaza, and to enable the Civilian population of Gaza to enjoy their
fundamental civil and political rights, as well as their economic, social and
cultural rights.

2. Promptly and urgently intervene to open Rafah International
Crossing Point for those who wish to leave Gaza—including hundreds of patients
who require medical treatment abroad, students enrolled at universities abroad,
holders of residency permits in foreign countries, and other humanitarian
cases—and for those who are stranded in Egypt to return to Gaza if they wish.

3. Promptly and urgently intervene to ensure respect for the
provisions of international humanitarian law and international human rights
law, in order to put an end to the deterioration of living conditions across
the Gaza Strip.

4. Compel Israel to stop measures of collective punishment
against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, including tightening the
closure of Gaza’s border crossings.

5. Remind the State of Israel, the Occupying Power, of its
obligations towards the civilians of the Gaza Strip, under Article 55 of the
1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, which stipulates: "To the fullest extent of
the means available to it, the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring the
food and medical supplies of the population; it should, in particular, bring in
the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of
the occupied territory are inadequate. The Occupying Power may not requisition foodstuffs, articles or medical
supplies available in the occupied territory, and then only if the requirements
of the civilian population have been taken into account". The High Contracting Parties to the Fourth
Geneva Convention must fulfill their obligation under Article 1 of the
Convention, to ensure the implementation of the convention’s provisions by the
State of Israel, in order to ensure the protection of the Palestinian civilians
of the Gaza Strip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For more
information, please contact the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights at pchr@pchrgaza.org or +972-(0)8-
282-4776.