The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has published a new report as part of the State of the Gaza Strip’s Border Crossings monthly report series addressing the developments relating to the state of Gaza Strip’s border crossings in August 2015. The report documents the impact of the ongoing Israeli siege on the Palestinian civilians, and it confirms that this closure affects their development and reconstruction process and it is the main
reason for the deterioration of their economic and social conditions. The report also refutes Israel’s claims that it has eased the closure of the Gaza Strip which has been imposed for the ninth consecutive year. In addition, it
confirms that the ongoing Israeli measures are aimed to institutionalize the closure and make it acceptable at the international level although it violates international law, including the international humanitarian law and human rights law.
According to the report, no remarkable change was witnessed in relation to the commercial movement in August, and Israel continued to impose a complete ban on the exportation from Gaza Strip to the West bank, Israel and abroad. Exceptionally, Israel allowed exportation of 96 truckloads to the West bank, 80 of them of agriculture products, 3 of them of furniture, 4 of them of stationery, 5 of them of fish, and 3 of them of clothes and one of straw carpets. The rate of the Gaza Strip exports for August constitutes 2% of the
exports before June 2007.
Concerning the imports, there were more obstacles imposed on importing the main products, especially construction materials which are needed for Gaza reconstruction process and infrastructure project. Israeli forces allowed importation of 12,912 truckloads, the majority of which were foodstuffs and consumables with an average of 416 truckloads daily. The number of the truckloads that were allowed in represents 72.9% of the number of the truckloads that were allowed in before imposing the closure which were 570 truckloads daily, given that the Gaza Strip needs have significantly increased because of the population increase. It should be noted that Karm Abu Salem, which is the only commercial crossing in the Gaza Strip, was closed within the reporting period for 9 days (29% of the total reporting period).
As for the movement of persons, civilians have been denied their right to the freedom of movement and have suffered due to the obstacles imposed on their movement at all border crossings which connect Gaza Strip with the outside world, Israel, and the West bank.
Rafah International Crossing Point on the Egyptian border was closed during the reporting period for 27 days due to the Egyptian internal crisis, and the deterioration of the security conditions North Sinai. However, it was opened for only 4 days when 2,918 civilians could depart the Gaza Strip, 3,466 civilians were allowed to travel back to the Gaza Strip, and the Egyptian authorities prevented 138 civilians from traveling. The closure of the crossing hindered the travel of about 16,000 persons who registered at the Ministry of Interior in Gaza for traveling, in addition to people who want to travel but not registered at the Ministry.
In August, Israel continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinians via Beit Hanoun crossing (Eriz), which is the only crossing between Gaza Strip and the West bank, including occupied Jerusalem, and/or Israel. As a result, 1.8 million people were deprived of their right to move and travel. In spite of the increasing the number of Palestinians who are allowed to travel via Beit Hanoun crossing within the reporting period compared to the complete ban months ago, the categories that are allowed to travel via Beit Hanoun are limited and no change. The limited categories are: 1,346 patients accompanied by 1,370 persons; 9,422 businessmen; 3,479 persons of personal needs; 655 workers of international humanitarian organizations; 70 persons travel via al-Karama International Crossing Point on the Jordanian border; 270 relatives of prisoners in Israeli jails; and 1,081 elderly persons to pray in al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. All these categories travel via the crossing under very complicated procedures. Moreover, Israeli forces continued to use Beit Hanoun crossing (Eriz) as a trap to blackmail and arrest the Palestinians. In this context, they arrested 3 businessmen during the reporting period while travelling via Beit Hanoun crossing.
In the report’s recommendations, PCHR calls upon the international community, especially the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949, to immediately intervene to force Israeli authorities to open all border crossings in order to stop the humanitarian deterioration in the Gaza Strip.