The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) published a new report as part of the series of the monthly “Closure Reports” addressing the latest developments of the state of the Gaza Strip border crossings in January 2016. The report documents the impact of the ongoing Israel-imposed siege on Palestinian civilians, which affects their economic and social conditions. It also refutes Israel’s claims that it has eased the closure of the Gaza Strip for the eighth consecutive year. Furthermore, the report highlights that the continuing Israeli measures aim to the institutionalization of the closure and making the illegal restrictions imposed on the movement of persons and goods acceptable on the international level although they violate the international law, including the international humanitarian and human rights laws.
During the reporting period, Israel closed Karm Abu Salem, which is the sole commercial crossing, for 10 days (32.2% of the total period). On the days it was open, Israel allowed the entry of 18,594 truckloads, an average of 600 truckloads daily.
Concerning the exports, Israeli forces continued to impose a ban on the Gaza Strip exports to the West Bank, Israel and abroad with exception of limited quantities. During the reporting period, 274 truckloads were allowed for exportation to the West Bank, including 246 truckloads of agricultural products (tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet and hot peppers, garlic, eggplants, summer squash and mints), a truckload of spices, 4 truckloads of fish, a truckload of furniture, 2 truckloads of cloths and a truckload of scrap. The rate of the Gaza Strip exports for December constitutes 4.5% of the exports before June 2007.
As for the movement of persons, the Gaza Strip population has been denied their right to the freedom of movement and has been suffering due to obstacles imposed on their movement at all crossing border
During the reporting period, Rafah International Crossing Point was closed for 31 days as a result of the Egyptian internal situation and the deteriorating security situation in north Sinai. This unveiled the reality of the situation in the Gaza Strip under the policy of collective punishment and the Israeli closure imposed over all border crossings, especially Beit Hanoun crossing. The number of Palestinians, who registered for traveling via the crossing and are waiting for their turn to travel, was over 25,000, including hundreds of patients, university students and holders of residence visas in countries abroad, according to the Ministry of Interior in Gaza.
In January, Israeli forces continued to impose additional restrictions on the movement of Palestinians via Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, the only crossing between the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem and/or Israel. As a result, 2 million persons were denied their right to travel. However, Israeli forces allowed limited categories to travel via Beit Hanoun crossing 1,464 patients accompanied by 1,385 persons; 8,116 businesspeople; 2,416 persons for personal needs; 576 workers of international humanitarian organizations; 365 persons travelling via al-Karama crossing; 215 relatives of prisoners in the Israeli jails and 737elderly persons to perform prayers in al-Aqsa mosque.
In the report’s recommendations, PCHR called 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 immediately intervene to compel Israeli authorities to open the Gaza Strip crossings and put an end to the grave deterioration of humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.