The release of this report comes one
month after the lethal attack on the humanitarian flotilla heading to Gaza,
which focused the world’s attention on the suffering of the population of Gaza.
 It also coincides with the recent
declaration of an "ease" of the closure imposed by Israel on the Gaza
Strip that is illegal and constitutes a form of collective punishment against
the civilian population.

 

The Palestinian Center for Human
Rights (PCHR) emphasizes that in order to put an end to the severe crisis that
is affecting Gaza a dramatic change in Israeli policy is needed. The illegal closure has caused not only a
humanitarian crisis but also a crisis of human rights and human dignity for the
population of the Gaza Strip. Measures
declared recently to ease the blockade are vague, purely cosmetic and fail to
deal with the root causes of the crisis, which can only be addressed by an
immediate, complete lifting of the closure that includes lifting restrictions
of persons into and out of the Gaza Strip and the ban on exports. PCHR is concerned that the new Israeli policy
is simply shifting Gaza to another form of illegal blockade, one that may
become internationally accepted and institutionalized. Palestinians in Gaza may no longer suffer
from the same shortage of goods, but they will remain economically dependent
and unable to care for themselves as well as socially, culturally and
academically isolated from the rest of the world.

 

PCHR emphasizes that the closure
itself constitutes a violation of international law. Expanding the list of
items allowed into Gaza does not change the illegality of this policy, which is
inconsistent with Israel’s legal obligations both as an Occupying Power and
under international human rights treaties to which it is a party, such as the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Quartet has noted that the situation of
the civilian population of Gaza is unsustainable, unacceptable and cannot be
resolved by providing increased humanitarian aid; therefore, as confirmed by
the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), there is no other
sustainable solution than the complete, immediate lifting of the closure.[1]

 

Facts on the ground reveals the
falsity of the Israeli claims on easing the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and
alleviating the restrictions imposed on the entry of goods into the Gaza
Strip. Nothing has happened at
commercial crossings to change the complete ban on the Gaza Strip’s exports and
the ongoing prevention of the entry of most basic goods into the Gaza Strip by
the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). On
30 June 2010, Major General Eitan Dengot, IOF’s Coordinator in the Gaza Strip,
declared that the Israeli authorities would allow an increased number of trucks
to enter into the Gaza Strip—now 150 trucks daily—and would permit the entry of
household appliances, materials for reconstructing houses, and office
furniture. However, the Israeli
authorities closed Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing on the same day as
they issued the declaration for many hours with no reason. They have not permitted the entry of any new
types of goods mentioned in their declaration so far.

 

The Israeli declaration of allowing
new types of goods into the Gaza Strip (such as soft drinks, juices, canned
fruits, salads, biscuits, chips, and mayonnaise) and its subsequent declaration
of allowing items such as household appliances, materials for reconstructing
houses, and office furniture are all attempts to delude the international
community of easing the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. The goods that have been allowed into the
Gaza Strip so far do not meet the minimal level of the population’s basic
needs.

 

The Head of the Coordination Committee
of the Palestinian Authority for the Entry of Goods declared that the types of
goods allowed by IOF into the Gaza Strip do not exceed 135 types, including 92
types of commercial goods, 33 types of agricultural goods and 10 types of
grains. PCHR notes that 9,000 types of goods used to be allowed into the Gaza
Strip prior to mid June 2006. It should
also be noted that markets in the Gaza Strip do not need the types of goods
permitted entry, which are already available in the Gaza Strip via the tunnels
to Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip; in addition, the Gaza Strip’s civilians
can not afford these goods due to the deterioration of the economic and social
conditions.

 

IOF continue to impose a complete
ban on the entry of construction materials into the Gaza Strip, particularly cement,
construction iron and aggregate. As a
result, the Gaza Strip has been living under difficult humanitarian conditions
resulting from destruction of thousands of houses and public facilities during
the Intifada and the latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip. The lack of construction materials used for
completing projects of housing units and Al-Quds hospital, which are supervised
by the UNRWA, has continued as the total quantities of materials entered for the
construction of two housing projects reached 17% of the materials needed for
their completion. IOF allowed the entry
of limited quantities of aggregate (1,380 tons) and base course (1,140 tons)
used for the projects of the UNRWA. These quantities do not meet the minimal level of the needs of the Gaza
Strip for one day in normal conditions, which amount to 3,000 tons of cement,
2,500 tons of aggregates, 2,000 tons of iron. The Ministry of Public Works and Housing in Gaza declared that the
Gaza Strip urgently needs 1,100,000 tons of cement, 2,500,000 tons of
aggregates, and 200,000 tons of construction iron in order to meet the urgent
needs of reconstructing the Gaza Strip and constructing the infrastructure and
vital facilities for the Gaza Strip’s civilians
.

 

IOF also have continued to impose a
total closure on the export of all types of the Gaza Strip’s products, most
intended for the West Bank and Israel, since in June 2007, when IOF tightened
the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. The
continuous prevention of the export of the Gaza Strip’s products has resulted
in large losses in most economic sectors, especially those who depend on
marketing their goods in the West Bank and Israel. As a result, most industrial facilities are
completely closed.

 

 

Al-Mentar (Karni) crossing,
previously used for exporting the Gaza Strip’s goods to Israel, the West Bank
and abroad, has been completely closed for imports and exports since 13 June
2008. It has been opened for limited
periods to enter limited quantities of grains and fodders into the Gaza Strip. Before tightening the siege, trade with
Israel constituted 80% of the Palestinian external trade. The percentage of goods exported to the West
Bank and Israel reached 90% of the Gaza Strip’s total exports. IOF allowed the exceptional export of limited
quantities of flowers and strawberries, which do not exceed 20% and 4% of the
Gaza Strip’s production respectively, following the intervention of the Israeli
Supreme Court. The Gaza Strip produces
approximately 60 million flowers and 1,500 tons of strawberry annually to be
exported abroad, according to estimates of the Cooperative Agricultural Society
of Strawberries, Vegetables and Flowers’ Farmers. Due to the ongoing closure imposed on more
than 1.5 million Palestinians, poverty and unemployment rates have been raised
to unprecedented levels.

 

Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing also
remained closed throughout the reporting period, and restrictions were imposed
on the categories of persons which have been allowed to pass via the crossing,
including 415 patients suffering from serious medical conditions en
route to Israeli and/or Palestinian hospitals
, 150 international
journalists, 30 diplomats and 350 workers of international humanitarian
organizations. Persons in these
categories are permitted to pass via the crossing only under very complicated
security procedures
. During
the reporting period, IOF did not allow these categories to pass via the
crossing on two days.
 Rafah
International Crossing Point on the Egyptian border has been exceptionally
opened, as 4,000 Palestinians passed via the crossing, the majority of whom
were patients
seeking urgent medical treatment abroad,
students enrolled
in universities
abroad
, persons working abroad and
holders
of residency permits in other countries
. However, 5,300 Palestinians seeking to cross
were turned away at the border crossing, according to the Palestinian Crossings
and Borders Commissio
n. The
number of persons who have traveled via Rafah International Crossing Point
since it was opened on 2 June 2010 is now 9,900 persons, while 8,800 have been
allowed to travel to the Gaza Strip from Egypt.

 

The following is a summary of the
most significant developments relevant to the Gaza Strip’s border crossings
during the 15-day reporting period (16 – 30 June 2010):

 

· Beit Hanoun (Erez)
Crossing

 

IOF continued to impose restrictions
on all categories
of persons who were allowed to travel via Beit Hanoun
crossing, including patients suffering from serious medical conditions
who were transferred to Israeli and/or Palestinian hospitals, Palestinians
holding an Israeli ID, international journalists, workers of international
humanitarian organizations and those wishing to travel via al-Karama
International Crossing Point
. IOF completely closed the crossing on
3 days. The most significant
developments relevant to movement through Beit Hanoun crossing were as follows:

 

 

  IOF closed the
crossing for the movement of most Palestinian civilians throughout the 15-day
reporting period. The crossing was
completely closed on 3 days for the limited categories who were normally allowed
to travel via the crossing. In addition,
it was closed on 4 days for businesspeople and opened on only 11 days, during
which 70 businesspeople were allowed to pass via the crossing; i.e. an average
of less than five businesspeople daily. This figure illustrates 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
had been allowed to travel via the crossing daily prior to June 2007.

 

 Patients’
Conditions:
IOF
closed the crossing for Palestinian patients from Gaza who were transferred
to Israeli and/or Palestinian hospitals in the West Bank
on 3 days. During the partial opening of the crossing,
only 415 patients were allowed to pass via the crossing, i.e. an average of 28
patients daily—this figure represents 56% of the total number compared to the
first half of 2006. According to some
reports, Palestinian patients are being blackmailed by the General Security
Service’s members (Shabak). Some patients reported that the Shabak
interrogators exploited their serious health conditions to pressure them into
giving the interrogators information relevant to security matters. As a result, the 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 diplomats on 7 days. Journalists,
media representatives and workers of international humanitarian organizations were
denied entry on 3 days. During the days
on which the crossing was open, IOF allowed approximately 60 journalists, 30
diplomats and 350 workers of international humanitarian
organizations
to enter Gaza, often under very complicated security
procedures which resulted in delays of several days for many of those allowed
to enter.

 

 Prisoners’ Visitation: For more than 35 months, IOF have
prevented the families of Palestinians from Gaza detained in Israeli jails from
visiting their imprisoned relatives. There are approximately 800 Gazans detained in Israeli jails, and such
denial of family visits, imposed since 6 June 2007, constitutes a violation of
international humanitarian law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention of
1949. It 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 facilitated
by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) until it was suspended
by Israel.

 

· Rafah International Crossing Point

 

During the reporting period, Rafah
International Crossing Point was nominally open. Humanitarian aid and limited categories of
persons, including patients seeking medical treatment abroad, students enrolled
in universities abroad, persons working abroad and holders of residency permits
in other

 

countries were allowed to enter via
the crossing. The Egyptian authorities
the exceptional opening of the Rafah International Crossing Point on 1 June
2010 after it had been previously closed for Palestinians wishing to travel
abroad for 991 days since it was closed by IOF on 12 June 2007.

 

During the reporting period, 4,000
persons traveled abroad and 5,300 persons entered the Gaza Strip via the
crossing, while 850 were turned back at the border by the Egyptian authorities,
according to the Palestinian Crossings and Borders Commission. The number of persons who have traveled
abroad via Rafah International Crossing Point since it was opened on 2 June
2010 is now 9,900; 8,800 persons entered the Gaza Strip and 1,759 have been
denied permission to cross the border by the Egyptian authorities.

 

It should be noted that during the
closure of the crossing, the Egyptian authorities occasionally allowed some
limited categories of persons to enter the Gaza Strip via the crossing for
humanitarian reasons, including the persons stranded on the Egyptian side of
the crossing point and patients who received medical treatment in the Egyptian
hospitals. In addition, the Egyptian
authorities allowed Arab and international delegations to enter the Gaza Strip
in groups to observe the humanitarian conditions and the various impacts of the
Israeli closure, including the Palestinians’ suffering due to the ongoing
closure.

 

· Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) Crossing

 

During the reporting period, Karm
Abu Salem crossing was partially opened on 11 days (73.3%), while it was
completely closed on 4 days (26.7%). Karm
Abu Salem crossing has been closed on 504 days since 18 August 2008, when the
crossing was designated by Israel as Gaza’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 the crossing was partially opened, IOF
allowed the entry of 1,360 truckloads of humanitarian aid, including food,
blankets and medications delivered 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 during the
time of its partial opening.

 

 IOF allowed the entry of 500 truckloads of clothes, shoes
and refrigerators, which belong to Palestinian traders and had been blocked at
the Israeli ports for three 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 also allowed the entry of
limited quantities of construction materials to the Gaza Strip. 1,380 tons of aggregate and 1,140 tons of
base course were allowed for UNRWA projects. These quantities, however, do not meet the minimal level of the

 

Gaza Strip’s needs for a single day
under normal conditions: the daily needs of the civilian population in Gaza are
approximately 3,000 tons of cement, 2,500 tons of aggregate and 2,000 tons of
iron. Eng. Yasser al-Shanti, who works
in the Ministry of Public Works and Housing in Gaza, estimated that the Gaza
Strip urgently needs 1,100,000 tons of cement, 2,500,000 tons of aggregates,
and 200,000 tons of construction iron in order to meet the immediate needs of
reconstructing the Gaza Strip after four years of closure.

 

 Fuel: Following the complete closure of Nahal Oz crossing, which
was previously 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;
such quantities, however, did not meet even the minimal level of the needs of
the Gaza Strip’s civilian population. As reported by the General Department of
Petroleum
to a Palestinian Center for Human Rights’ (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 needed for the Gaza Power Plant on 6 days. During the days on
which the crossing was open, IOF allowed
the entry of 1.2 million liters of industrial fuel to Gaza, a quantity that
sufficed to
operate the Plant at less than 25% of its capacity
during the reporting period. 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.

 

 2,100 tons of cooking gas were allowed into the Gaza Strip
on 11 days, an average of 145 tons daily. The supply of cooking gas to the Gaza
Strip stopped completely on 4 days. The
Gaza Strip’s daily requirement for gas is estimated at 350 tons in winter and
200 tons in summer.

 

 IOF denied the entry of benzene for the Gaza Strip’s civilian
population, although they permitted the entry of 35,000 liters for the
UNRWA and 36,600
liters
for the World Bank. It should be noted that the entry of benzene
supplies previously reached 120,000 liters daily before the IOF reduced the
quantities of fuel supplies in October 2007.

 

 During the reporting period, entry of diesel for Gaza’s
civilian population was denied, although 365,700 liters of
diesel were permitted entry for use by UNRWA and World Bank. It should be noted that before reducing the
quantities of fuel supplies in October 2007
, Israel had permitted
the delivery of 350,000
liters
of diesel to the Gaza Strip daily. The Gaza Strip now depends on the fuel
smuggled through the tunnels at the Egyptian-Palestinian borders.

 

· Al-Mentar (Karni) Crossing

 

As reported by the Ministry of
Economy to PCHR’s researcher, al-Mentar crossing was completely closed for the
supply of goods to and from the Gaza Strip on 11 days (73.3%), and it was
partially opened to allow the entry of limited quantities of imports on 4 days
(26.6%). During the partial opening of
the crossing, IOF permitted the entry of 98 trucks, carrying 3,822 tons of
grains, and 186 trucks, carrying 7,254 tons of fodders, into the Gaza Strip. In addition, 23 trucks, carrying 1,380 tons
of aggregate, and 19 trucks, carrying 1,140 tons of base course, were permitted
entry for use by UNRWA. 

 

 

 

The number of days of complete
closure of the crossing is now 815 since 13 June 2007, when Hamas took over the
Gaza Strip. The closure of the crossing
has resulted in the deterioration of humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip
and negatively impacts the 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:

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] See: Position Paper on
Easing of the Closure of the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), 1 July
2010.