The publication of this report
coincides with the fourth consecutive year of the illegal siege imposed on the
Gaza Strip by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) since 15 June 2007, including the
closure of crossings used for civilian movement. No changes have happened despite the Israel’s
claims that they have alleviated the siege and allowed new types of goods into
the Gaza Strip. IOF have continued to
impose restrictions on the Gaza Strip’s border crossings, and crossings such as
Sofa and Nahal Oz have remained completely closed since 2008 and the beginning
of January 2010, respectively. Exports from the Gaza Strip were banned during
the 15-day reporting period.

 

In an attempt to delude the international
community that the movement of goods into the Gaza Strip had indeed been eased,
Israel promised to allow new types of goods into the Gaza Strip, such as soft
drinks, juices, canned fruits, salads, biscuits, chips and mayonnaise. Israel declared that this decision was made
in order to alleviate the suffering of the people in Gaza; however, these
alleged steps do not meet even the minimal level of the basic needs of
civilians in the Gaza Strip. The Head of the Coordination Committee of the
Palestinian Authority for the Entry of Goods declared that the types of goods
allowed by Israel into the Gaza Strip do not exceed 135 types (92 types of
commercial goods, 33 types of agricultural goods and 10 types of grains) out of
9000 types of goods which used to be allowed into the Gaza Strip prior to
mid-June 2006. It should be noted that
markets in the Gaza Strip do not demand the types of goods which Israel has
promised to allow in, as large quantities of such goods are already available
in the Gaza Strip via the tunnels at the Egyptian border.

 

On the other hand, humanitarian
conditions in the Gaza Strip continue to worsen due to the complete blockade
imposed on the entry of the most of basic goods into the Gaza Strip, including
construction materials such as cement, iron and aggregates. The lack of construction materials due to the
blockade is a central feature of the crisis that the Gaza Strip’s civilians
face, confronted with the destruction of thousands of houses and public
facilities during the Intifada and the latest Israeli military offensive on the
Gaza Strip. The crisis of construction
materials needed for completing housing projects and reconstruction of al-Quds
hospital, which are supervised by the UNRWA, has continued, as the total
quantity of materials entered for the construction of the projects reached 17%
of the quantity required. Israel allowed
the entry of 29 tons of cement, 735 tons of aggregates, 300 tons of base course
and 35 tons of paints and pipes used for the projects of the UNRWA.  These quantities do not meet even the minimal
level of the needs of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip for one day in
normal conditions, which amount to 3,000 tons of cement, 2,500 tons of
aggregates and 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 civilian infrastructure and
vital facilities, whose construction has been stopped due to the total ban
imposed on entering construction materials into the Gaza Strip.[1]

 

 

The closure of Beit Hanoun (Erez)
crossing has continued during the reporting period, and Israel imposed
restrictions on categories of persons permitted to travel via the crossing,
including: 428 patients suffering from serious medical conditions who had been
transferred to Israeli hospitals and/or Palestinian hospitals
in the West Bank, 150 international journalists, 40 diplomats and 296 workers
of international humanitarian organizations. Persons in these categories passed
via the crossing only under very complicated security procedures. Israel
disallowed persons in these categories to pass via the crossing on two
days. Rafah International Crossing Point
on the Egyptian border was exceptionally opened after three years of complete
closure for the movement of the Gaza Strip’s civilians. 5,910 Palestinians passed
through the crossing, most of whom were patients badly in need of medical
treatment abroad, students enrolled at universities
abroad
, people working abroad, and
holders
of residency permits in other countries
.

 

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 increased,
particularly, those of materials needed for construction. Banning the materials needed for
construction, now for approximately three years, has aggravated the suffering
of the Palestinian people, as their homes are in a dire need of reconstruction
and repair, as are the other civilian property damaged 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
15-day reporting period (1 – 15 June 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:

 

§ Israel completely 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 of persons allowed
to travel via the crossing otherwise. In addition, it was closed on 4 days for
businesspeople and opened on only 11 days, allowing 68 businesspeople to pass
via the crossing, an average of less than 5 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 daily
allowed to travel via the crossing prior to June 2007.

 

 

 

§ Patients’ Conditions: IOF closed the crossing for Gazan
patients transferred to the Israeli hospitals and/or Palestinian ones in the
West Bank
on 2 days. During
the partial opening of the crossing, only 428 patients were allowed to pass
through the crossing, 28 patients daily. This represents 56% of the total compared to the first half of 2006. According to some reports, Palestinian
patients are being blackmailed by the Israeli General Security Service’s
members (Shabak). Some patients stated that the Shabak interrogators make use
of their serious health conditions to pressure the patients into providing the
interrogators information relevant to security matters. As a result, those patients were denied
access to hospitals, which aggravated their health conditions.

 

§ Journalists, Diplomats and Workers of International
Humanitarian Organizations
: Israel imposed a ban on the entry
of diplomats on 5 days, and on journalists, media representatives and workers
of international humanitarian organizations on 2 days. During the days on which the crossing was
open, IOF allowed approximately 150 journalists, 40 diplomats and 296 workers
of international humanitarian organizations
to enter Gaza, often
under very complicated security procedures that resulted in delays of several
days for many of those allowed to enter. IOF also rejected issuing permits to Irish journalists accompanying a
delegation from the Irish NGO Trocaire during their visit to the Gaza Strip on
9 June 2010. The delegation headed by
the Trocaire Director, Mr. Justin Kilcullen, arrived in Israel and the Occupied
Palestinian Territory (OPT) to observe the situation. The delegation requested permits to enter the
Gaza Strip on 5 June. When they arrived however, IOF rejected denied the
accompanying journalists permits, citing no reason for the denial. 

 

§ 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, is a violation of
international humanitarian law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention of
1949. It is worth noting 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 this deprivation of visitation
rights with 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

 

On 1 June 2010, the Egyptian
authorities declared Rafah International Crossing Point exceptionally open from
both directions for the entry of humanitarian aid and the passage of limited
categories of persons, including patients, students enrolled at universities
abroad, people working abroad, and holders of residency permits in foreign
countries. The decision to open the crossing point came after it had been
completely closed for persons wishing to travel to and from the Gaza Strip for
991 days, since 12 June 2007. According to information available to PCHR, 5,910
persons traveled via Rafah International Crossing Point when it opened on 2
June 2010; 3,536 persons entered the Gaza Strip, and 1,759 were denied entry by

 

 

 

the Egyptian authorities, according
to the Department of Crossings and Borders. During the reporting period, many
Arab and international delegations were allowed to enter the Gaza Strip through
Rafah, including a delegation from the League of Arab States. The delegation included Dr. Amru Mousa,
Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Ambassador Mohammed
Sbaih, Assistant Secretary-General for Palestine Affairs, and Ambassador Hisham
Yousef, Director of the Office of the Secretary-General of the League of Arab
States. The delegation arrived in the Gaza Strip on 13 June 2010. Also, on 6 June 2010, an Arab parliamentary
delegation, including 36 members representing the Arab Parliamentary Union,
entered the Gaza Strip to observe the situation. On 14 June 2010, a Bahraini delegation
also entered the Gaza Strip, including 19 Bahraini activists, namely: Nasser
al-Fudala, Member of the Bahraini Parliament, Dr. Mustafa al-Sayed, Member of
the Royal Charitable Society and Director of the Executive Committee of the
Bahraini National Committee for Supporting the Palestinian People, and Mr.
Saleh Shihab, Secretary-General of the Bahrain Red Crescent Society; in
addition to public figures and journalists. The humanitarian aid brought by the Bahraini delegation was allowed into
the Gaza Strip.

 

It should be noted that during the
closure of the crossing, the Egyptian authorities previously allowed limited
categories of persons to pass through the crossing on Wednesdays and Thursdays
for humanitarian reasons. These
categories included persons stranded in Egypt and patients treated in the
Egyptian hospitals. Furthermore, during the closure of the crossing, Arab and
international delegations were allowed into the Gaza Strip in groups to observe
the humanitarian conditions, the impact of the Israeli siege imposed on the
Gaza Strip, and the suffering of the Palestinian people due to the ongoing
siege.

 

· Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) Crossing

 

During the reporting period, Karm
Abu Salem crossing was partially opened on 11 days (73.3%), and it was
completely closed on 4 days (26.7%). Karm Abu Salem crossing has been closed on 500 days since 18 August
2008, when the crossing was re-opened and designated by Israel as the Gaza
Strip’s major commercial crossing. According
to the Ministry of Economy, 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 900 truckloads of humanitarian relief, including food,
blankets and medications delivered by international humanitarian aid
organizations, such as 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 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 to the Gaza Strip,
including 29 tons of cement, 735 tons of
aggregate, 300 tons of base course and 35 tons of paints and pipes for the
projects of the UNRWA. These quantities
do not meet even the minimal daily needs of the Gaza Strip in normal
conditions, which amount to 3,000 tons of cement, 2,500 tons of aggregate and
2,000 tons of iron. The Gaza Strip urgently needs 1,100,000 tons of cement,
2,500,000 tons of aggregate and 200,000 tons of iron for reconstruction
projects, after being denied such materials for 4 years due to the siege,
according to Eng. Yasser al-Shanti, Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of
Public Works and Housing in Gaza government.

 

· 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. 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: 

 

o 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 million liters of industrial fuel into the Gaza
Strip, a quantity that sufficed to operate the Plant at less than 40% 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.

 

o A Limited quantity of cooking gas was allowed into the Gaza
Strip on 10 days, totaling 1,700 tons or an average of 113 tons daily; the supply
of cooking gas to the Gaza Strip was stopped completely on 5 days. It should be noted that the Gaza Strip’s
daily need for gas amounts to 350 tons in winter and 200 tons in summer.

 

o During the reporting period, 43,000 liters of
benzene were allowed into the Gaza Strip, a quantity that does not even meet
the needs for a single day, (120,000 liters). In addition, 124,000 liters of
diesel were allowed into the Gaza Strip. It should be noted that before
making the decision to reduce the quantities of fuel supplies in October 2007
,
Israel permitted the delivery of 350,000 liters of diesel daily. The Gaza Strip is now dependent on the fuel
smuggled through the 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
supply of goods from and to the Gaza Strip on 13 days (86.6%) and

 

 

 

 

it was partially opened to allow
limited quantities of imports on 2 days (13.4%). On the days in which the
crossing was partially open, IOF allowed the entry of 60 trucks carrying, 1,040
tons of grains, and 117 trucks, carrying 4,562 tons of fodders, into the Gaza Strip. 

 

The number of days in which
Al-Mentar was completely closed is now 804 days since 13 June 2007, when Hamas
took over the Gaza Strip. The closure of the crossing has resulted into
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:

 

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] An interview with Eng.
Yasser al-Shanti, Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of
Public Works and Housing in Gaza government
, by Ma’an News Agency on
10 June 2010.