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 July 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 tenth consecutive year. Furthermore, the report highlights that the amount of imports, especially basic materials that do not meet the minimal level of the Gaza Strip actual needs. They also continued to impose almost-complete ban on exports. Moreover, the report documented retreating the number of people” specific categories” allowed to leave the Gaza Strip via Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing.
During the reporting period, the number of truckloads that were allowed to enter the Gaza Strip increased; however, no remarkable change was witnessed on the commercial level. Israeli forces allowed the entry of 14,603 truckloads, the majority of which were foodstuffs and consumables; an average of 471 truckloads daily. Despite the number of truckloads allowed to enter the Strip has risen more than April, but they are still limited quantities that do not fill the basic needs of the Strip. Moreover, the Israeli forces continued imposing sever restrictions on the exportation of the basic goods and commodities especially material needed for the infrastructure projects and materials needed for manufacture and production. Many obstacles were imposed on the entry of imports including the frequent closure of the only commercial crossing in the Gaza Strip, Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom); the crossing was closed for 12 days (38.7% of the total period).
In a limited exception, the Israeli authorities allowed the entry of very limited quantities of construction materials. According to the National Ministry of Economy, the Israeli authorities allowed the entry of 54,855 tons of cement, 6,895 tons of construction steel and 215,800 tons of aggregate ( 3.6%, 1.3% and 7.1% of the total construction materials needed for the Gaza Reconstruction.)
Concerning the exports, Israeli forces continued to impose a ban on the Gaza Strip exports to the West Bank, Israel and abroad with the exception of limited quantities. During the reporting period, 152 truckloads were allowed for exportation to the West Bank; 124 truckloads of which were agricultural products, and 28 truckloads of various goods (furniture, clothes, scrap, spices and stationary). The rate of the Gaza Strip exports for April constitutes 3.3% of the exports before June 2007.
In a new step, Israeli forces allowed entry of the Gaza Strip imports of vehicles through Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing rather than Karm abu Salem crossing. In that, they allowed the entry of 3 refrigerator trucks, 8 busses and 54 small vehicles.
As for the movement of persons, during the reporting period, Israeli forces imposed restrictions on the movement of persons. In July, Israeli authorities allowed the travel of 1,381 patients and 1,285 persons accompanying them; 5,465 traders, 1,657 people with special needs, 570 workers of international humanitarian organizations, 272 persons travelling via al-Karama crossing and 361 Arabs holding Israeli ID’s. It should be noted that these estimations do not emphasize the number of persons allowed to travel which is much less than times of travel. Those who have permits are allowed to travel more than one time a month.
They also allowed 1,114 elderly people to cross Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing and perform prayers in al-Aqsa Mosque under complicated security measures and created obstacles in front of them for many days before allowing them to enter the Strip. Furthermore, Israeli forces arrested a trader and UNDP employee, while traveling through Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing. They also banned 6 members of Khan Yunis Youth Club (3 footballers and 3 administrators) from travelling to the West Bank to play the final Palestine Cup match.
During the reporting period, Rafah International Crossing Point was closed for 27 days as a result of the Egyptian internal situation and the deteriorating security situation in north Sinai. The crossing was opened for 4 days for specific categories during which, 2,961 persons were allowed to leave the Gaza Strip, 1,620 returned and the Egyptian authorities returned 159. 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 28,000, including 5,000 patients, in addition to thousands of Palestinians who want to travel but did not registered for traveling according to the Ministry of Interior in Gaza
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.