The State of Gaza Strip Border Crossings

1 – 25 November 2008

Summary

During the reporting period, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) escalated the siege and closure of the Gaza Strip, imposing a total closure on all border crossings. This resulted in a chronic humanitarian and human rights crisis, and lead to a complete lack of basic foods and medicines, as well as massive power cuts across the Strip. Electricity and fuel restrictions had a severe impact on Gaza’s public infrastructure, and resulted in, inter alia, serious shortages of safe drinking water.

Despite warnings of a pending humanitarian crisis by UN agencies and international humanitarian organizations, the IOF refused to allow deliveries of humanitarian supplies – including food and medicine – intended for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and other international humanitarian organizations and agencies.

The siege constitutes a form of collective punishment imposed on the civilian population of Gaza, and is an explicit violation of international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949). In spite of the deteriorating humanitarian conditions across the Gaza Strip, the international community made no effective efforts to enforce Israel’s respect for international human rights and humanitarian law. This is a violation of the international community’s legal obligation – as High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions – to ensure respect for the Conventions in all circumstances.

This report covers the period between 1 – 25 November 2008. Below are the most significant developments in the Gaza Strip during the reporting period.  

  • Only 1,721,610 liters of industrial fuel were supplied to the Gaza Power Plant. This amount was sufficient to operate the plant for just for 5 full days, and represented 19.6% of the amount of fuel required to operate the plant throughout the reporting period.    

  • Due to extensive power cuts the majority of civilians in the Gaza Strip faced serious problems in accessing water for drinking and domestic use.  

  • Hundreds of thousands of civilians suffered power cuts for 8-12 hours per day. In addition, more than a half million students were affected by the power cuts that coincided with the start of their exams.

  • All municipal and governmental services in the Gaza Strip were suspended during the reporting period due to lack of basic resources.  

  • Due to the continued closure of Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing, UNRWA was obliged to suspend its aid program, and closed its aid distribution centres for five days. These centres provide aid to approximately 750,000 Palestinian refugees, many of whom are completely dependent on aid for their basic needs.  

  • Civilians were denied access to flour and bread, both of which constitute basic staple foods.

  • Gaza bakeries were severely affected by the power cuts, as well as by shortages of cooking gas, wheat, and flour.

  • More than 50% of Gaza bakeries shut down during the reporting period. Approximately 54 bakeries (75% of the total in the Gaza Strip) closed on 23 November. The remaining 18 bakeries continued to operate at partial capacity, using low-grade wheat intended for animal fodder. Thousands of civilians were obliged to queue for hours at bakeries to buy the limited bread available.  

  • Rafah International Crossing Point remained closed for 22 days during the reporting period. It was partially opened for 3 days, during which time 2,100 civilians crossed into Egypt, and 780 Palestinians returned to Gaza. The majority of the 2,100 civilians who were allowed to cross into Egypt were students enrolled at international universities, patients requiring urgent medical treatment, and holders of foreign residency permits.  

  • Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing remained completely closed.  

  • The IOF intensified its control of the movements of employees of international organizations, including employees of humanitarian organizations, members of diplomatic missions and international journalists. IOF prevented a delegation of EU ambassadors and consuls from entering Gaza. In addition, IOF prevented many international humanitarian delegations and human rights workers from entering Gaza.  

  • IOF allowed a limited number of Gaza patients to access hospitals in the West Bank and/or Israel via Erez crossing. The average number of patients permitted to cross Erez dropped to 17 per day, representing a decrease of 15% compared to the first quarter of 2008, and a decrease of 66% compared to the first quarter of 2007.

  • Health conditions in the Gaza Strip deteriorated due to power cuts which seriously affected the effective operation of hospitals and other medical facilities. Health workers continue to face chronic shortage of medicine. 94 items of medicines and medical supplies classified as ‘essential items’ are reported to be completely unavailable. Those most severely affected include patients with blood, heart and kidney diseases, and chronically sick children.

  • The pediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Shifa Hospital was seriously affected by the power cuts, which threatened the lives of approximately 30 premature babies. Workers in the ICU have been forced to reprogram the babies’ monitoring devices several times a day as there has been insufficient electricity to operate the monitoring units on a continual basis.       

  • Fuel supplies delivered to the Gaza Strip via Nahal Oz crossing were reduced to less than minimum level requirements during the reporting period. Deliveries of benzene represented just 4.1% of the minimum daily requirement, diesel deliveries represented 2.9% of the minimum daily requirement, and deliveries of domestic cooking gars represented 4.8% of the daily minimum requirement.  

  • All Gaza border crossings remained closed throughout the 25-day reporting period. Al-Mentar (Karni) crossing was partially opened for limited hours for 3 days. Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing remained completely closed for 19 days, and was partially opened for 6 days for the delivery of limited quantities of humanitarian aid. Sofa crossing remained completely closed.

  • Poverty and unemployment both increased. The Gaza economy neared collapse due to the closure of the commercial crossings and the continued ban on imports of essential raw materials. Meanwhile the financial sector remains on the brink of collapse due to a dire shortage of local currency.   

  • Approximately 1,000 Gaza prisoners in Israeli jails continue to be denied all visitation rights.   

 

The Gaza Strip Border Crossings

 

Rafah International Crossing Point

During the reporting period, Rafah Crossing remained completely closed for 22 days. It was partially opened for 3 days to allow 2,100 civilians to cross into Egypt and abroad, and to allow 780 civilians to return to Gaza. Between 12 June 2007 and the end of this reporting period, Rafah crossing was completely closed for 511 days.

 

Developments at Rafah Crossing during the reporting period:

During the 3 day partial opening of the crossing, thousands of civilians wishing to leave Gaza crowded at the crossing. Approximately 1,276 civilians failed to cross Rafah and were returned to Gaza by the Egyptian authorities. This included 334 students who are enrolled in international universities and institutes. Movement at  the crossing during the 3-day partial opening was as follows:

­       On 4 November, 1,093 Palestinian civilians, including patients, students enrolled at foreign universities, and holders of residency permits in foreign countries, were allowed to leave Gaza via the crossing. 424 Palestinian civilians were allowed to return to Gaza.

­       On 5 November, 361 Palestinian civilians, including patients, students enrolled at foreign universities and foreign residency permit holders were permitted to cross into Egypt. 205 Palestinian civilians were allowed to cross back into Gaza.

­       On 6 November, 636 Palestinian civilians crossed into Egypt. 147 Palestinian civilians were allowed to return to Gaza.

The Egyptian authorities have continued to allow a very limited number of other Palestinian civilians to enter Egypt or to return to the Gaza Strip. The majority of these civilians were political leaders and patients.

­       On 2 November, 12 Palestinians were allowed to enter Egypt, including 4 leaders from Islamic Jihad who crossed the border to hold talks with Egyptian officials regarding the Palestinian national dialogue.

­       On 3 November, 2 leaders from the Hamas movement and one of their bodyguards were allowed to enter Egypt to hold talks with Egyptian officials regarding the Palestinian national dialogue.

­       On 12 November, 2008, 8 Palestinians were allowed to return to Gaza via the Rafah crossing.

­       On 18 November, 102 Palestinian civilians, including 90 patients returning to Gaza after medical treatment abroad, and 12 journalists, were allowed to return to Gaza via Rafah crossing. The 12 journalist had left Gaza to cover the Palestinian national dialogue that was postponed to a later date.

 

Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing

During the 25-day reporting period, IOF completely closed Erez crossing for Gaza civilians. In addition, IOF severely restricted the movement of members of diplomatic missions, employees in international humanitarian organizations and patients with serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions. Erez crossing was also completely closed for 21 days for the movement of Gaza tradesmen. PCHR notes that IOF allow no more than ten tradesmen from Gaza to cross into Israel via Erez crossing per day.                                 

 

Developments at Erez Crossing during the reporting period:

  • IOF imposed very severe restrictions on the movement of those individuals who were permitted to access Erez crossing during the reporting period. Those who obtained permission to use the crossing were forced to wait for hours before being allowed to pass, some were turned back, and forced to return the following day. Individuals were exposed to complex security and permit procedures, tight security measures and sometimes humiliating body searches.   

  • On 13 November, IOF denied entry to the Gaza Strip to an EU delegation, including a number of ambassadors and consuls. The delegates were informed they did not have permits for Gaza, despite having filled out all the necessary paperwork in advance. They were intending to visit Um al-Nasr village in the northern Gaza Strip, to observe local living conditions, and the current state of the sewage cesspool near the village.  

  • From 2 November onwards, IOF reduced opening hours at Erez crossing for the movement of employees of international organizations from 60 hours to 45 hours per week. Individuals were forced to wait hours to cross Erez in both directions, and many were subsequently denied passage. In addition, IOF prevented several foreign delegations from entering Gaza during the reporting period.

  • On 18 November, IOF prevented a delegation from the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), which represents more than 20 international humanitarian organizations, from entering the Gaza Strip. PCHR assert that this is part of the overall IOF policy to obstruct, or prevent, all international delegations, including employees of international humanitarian organizations, from entering Gaza in order to observe the humanitarian and human rights situation inside the Gaza Strip.  

  • In response to an IOF ban on journalists entering Gaza in order to report on conditions inside the Strip during the reporting period, lawyers representing the Foreign Press Association in Jerusalem filed a petition at the Israeli Supreme Court, demanding journalists be granted access to Gaza via Erez crossing. A number of international press agencies, including Reuters, sent a joint petition to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, demanding the IOF ban be lifted and journalists be granted access to Gaza in order to report on the situation in situ.  

 

·        Prisoners’ Rights

IOF have prevented the families of Gazans incarcerated inside Israeli jails from visiting their imprisoned relatives since 6 June 2007. There are approximately 1,000 Gazans in prison in Israel, and this denial of familial visits is a violation of international humanitarian law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention. PCHR notes that 150 of the prisoners from the Gaza Strip had already been deprived of all visitation rights prior to the June 2007 suspension. The prison visitation program was, until its suspension by the IOF, being facilitated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which has protested against the continuing suspension of the program by the IOF.

 

·        The Gaza Health Sector  

During the reporting period, IOF continued to hinder the passage of dozens of patients who need to travel to Israel, the West Bank, or a third country via Erez crossing. Patients requiring urgent medical treatment in the West Bank or Israel were denied the right to access appropriate medical services. As a result:

         During the reporting period, the daily average number of patients who obtained permits to cross Erez for medical treatment in Israel and/or the West Bank was 17 per day, a decrease of 15% in comparison with the first quarter of 2008, when an average of 20 patients per day were permitted to cross Erez in order to obtain treatment outside Gaza. PCHR notes that during November 2007, a daily average of 50 patients per day were permitted to cross Erez in order to obtain medical treatment.                                     

         Between 1-25 November, IOF permitted a total of 339 Palestinian patients from Gaza to cross Erez for treatment in Israel and/or the West Bank. However, another 200 applications for permits were submitted to the Ministry of Health representative in the District Civil Liaison Office during the reporting period, and are still awaiting responses. Patients applying for permits in order to obtain medical treatment frequently wait for weeks for a response, and many are subsequently rejected.

 

  Deterioration of patients’ health due to lack of appropriate medication

The Gaza Strip continues to suffer from severe shortages of basic and specialist medicines. Investigations conducted by PCHR, and collaborated by the Pharmacy Department of the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MOH), indicate there are 94 separate medical items that either became completely unavailable from the Pharmacy Department, or else will run out within the next four weeks.  Private sector pharmacies also report severe shortage of these 94 items. In addition, private pharmacies report having run out of another thirty medical items.[1] This increasing shortage of medication poses a serious threat to the lives of patients in the Gaza Strip, especially those who depend on medication for their survival, such as cancer patients.                                                                                                                            

Patients suffering from cancer currently suffer from the lack of 5 specialist medicines: Carboplatin 450 mg, Dicarbazine 200 mg, Mitomycin 2 mg, Gemzar 1 mg and Scarpim 100 mg. In addition, another two cancer medicines, Cycophosphamid 500 mg and MSMA 400 mg, are in very short supply and will soon be completely unavailable.

         The health of child patients continues to be directly affected by the siege, and the chronic shortages of specialist medication. Creon, which is vital for the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis affecting 80 children in the Gaza Strip, is now completely unavailable, posing a direct threat to the lives of these children. In addition, patients suffering from heart and kidney ailments, including those who have undergone kidney transplants, face unavailability or else chronic shortages of the medication they depend on in order to continue their treatment.  

         IOF continue to prevent Palestinian ambulances from transporting patients to hospitals in Israel or in the West Bank. However, IOF does allow some ambulances transporting critically ill patients to transfer the patients to Israeli ambulances. During their passage via Erez crossing, Palestinian patients are subjected to rigorous, sometimes humiliating inspection procedures, which can seriously delay their transfer to hospital despite their urgent need of medical treatment.  

         On 22 November, the Palestinian Ministry of Health warned of the threat to public health that would be posed by the potential closure of the two biggest hospitals in the Gaza Strip.  Ministry of Health spokesman, Humam Nasman, stated that Shifa Hospital and the Gaza European Hospital were both facing a serious crisis due to the breakdown of the main generators in both hospitals, and the unavailability of the necessary spare parts.  

         Humam Nasman also warned of the dangers posed to patients in the intensive care, renal, and premature baby units. He stated that there were a total of 25 patients in the intensive care units, and 30 young babies in the premature baby units. Dr. Hasan Khalaf, Deputy Health Minister, stated that the ongoing crisis is due to the continuing siege and closure of the Gaza Strip, and that a reliable and continual supply of electricity is vital for the continuation of health-care provision. Dr. Khalef explained that Shifa hospital is now depending on its secondary generator, which had also broken down, risking the lives of the thirty premature babies in the unit.

         Since June 2007, a total of 47 patients have died due to the IOF siege and closure of Gaza, including 16 women and 10 children. The latest victim was Khaled Abdul Rahman Hussein Abu Shamalla, age 55, from Khan Younis. He was suffering from a blocked portal vein and was denied access to medical treatment outside the Gaza Strip because he refused an IOF demand to cooperate/collaborate with the Israeli Intelligence Service.

 

Khaled’s brother, Sa’id Abdul Rahman Hussein Abu Shamalla, gave the following testimony to PCHR.

“My brother, Khaled, is married and has 4 children. He had surgery to place a metal stent in his portal vein in Ain Shams Specialized Hospital in Egypt in 2006. He returned to Gaza afterwards, and his health improved at first. But he began suffering from the same complaint again in July 2007. His health deteriorated because the stent had also become blocked. There was no treatment available for him inside Gaza, so we applied for a medical referral to Tel Hashomer Hospital in Israel at the end of July [2008]. We also applied for a permit for him to cross Erez in order to reach the hospital in Israel. During these procedures, the Israeli Intelligence Service requested an interview with him. He went to the interview on 9 September [2008] although his health was very bad at the time. He was suffering from a swelling in his abdomen due to liver problems, and was also suffering from fatigue and weakness because he was no longer able to eat solid food. After the interview, the Israeli intelligence service told him he would be approved for entry to Israel within a few days, due to his very bad health.

However, on his way back to Gaza from the interview, he received a call from the [Israeli] intelligence service, who told him the interview was not yet over, and he had to attend a second interview the following day. My brother had to go to the interview although he was still very sick. At the interview, the Israeli intelligence officer service tried to bargain with him, saying that his access to Israel, and to the hospital in Israel, depended on his “cooperation” with the Israeli military. My brother refused this bargain, and said to the Israeli officer that his recovery was in the hands of Allah. The officer replied, “Then go to Allah to help you” and then ordered my brother to return to Gaza, telling him he was denied permission to enter Israel.  When he returned to Gaza, my brother started to try to arrange a referral to the Palestine Hospital in Cairo. But the closure of Rafah crossing meant he could not reach the hospital. He died on 28 October, at the European Hospital in Khan Younis.”[2]

 

Al-Mentar (Karni) crossing

Developments at al-Mentar crossing during the reporting period:

  • The crossing was completely closed for imports for 22 days, and for exports for 25 days. It was partially opened through 3 days for the delivery of very limited quantities of essential goods.  

  • PCHR notes that from 13 June, 2007 until the end of this reporting period, al-Mentar crossing was completely closed for 390 days.

 

Gaza Flourmills

On 20 November, five of the Gaza Strip flourmills were forced to shut down due to lack of flour. The delivery of flour was completely suspended for three weeks due to the IOF closure of the Gaza Strip. The population of Gaza requires the equivalent of approximately 500 tons of wheat per day for domestic use. Within the reporting period, an additional four flourmills were forced to operate at partial capacity, and to use low grade wheat generally used as animal fodder and bird seed in order to produce bread. Abdul Naser al-Ajrami, head of Bakery Owners Association, told PCHR that flourmills were forced to use this low quality wheat because they had completely run out of standard quality wheat, and no new wheat stocks were available.

 

Gaza Bakeries

Gaza bakeries have suffered from low flour stocks since mid October 2008. In addition, bakeries have been forced to cope with severe shortage of electricity, fuel and cooking gas. During the final week of the reporting period, the majority of bakeries ran out of flour and fuel.  

­       There are 72 bakeries in the Gaza Strip, including 47 bakeries producing Shami bread, 10 producing Iraqi bread and 15 bakeries producing baguettes and pastries. Since 22 November, 54 of the 72 bakeries (75%) completely shut down, whilst the remaining 18 bakeries continued working part time.

­       17 bakeries rely on cooking gas for fuel, and were all forced to close during the reporting period, whilst 8 of the bakeries that use electricity were forced to operate part time due to the extensive power cuts.  

­       On 4 November, the Bakery Owners Association received 40 tons of cooking gas from the General Petroleum Corporation. This was the last time the Association received cooking gas during the reporting period, and was sufficient to last for one week.

Poultry

The Gaza Strip poultry sector has now all but collapsed because local markets have run out of fodder, as well as cooking gas used to heat hatcheries. According to PCHR investigations, dozens of chicken farms are struggling to stay in business due the restrictions and shortages of basic materials.  

Owners of chicken farms say they have been forced to sell huge numbers of chickens at reduced prices, because their business is no longer viable. Some farmers say they are now in heavy debt, whilst others report being forced to kill large numbers of chickens. Poultry hatcheries lack fertilized eggs that have not been delivered to Gaza since the first day of the reporting period. Approximately 1.25 million chickens are consumed every month in the Gaza Strip.  

Traders who sell chicken fodder say the continuing shortages are not only affecting large commercial chicken farms, but also thousand of local Gaza households who raise their own poultry, often in order to generate a small income. Many households are also being forced to either sell their poultry at reduced prices, or else slaughter them.

Dr. Ibrahim al-Qudwa, Assistant Undersecretary at the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture, stated that the owners of poultry hatcheries and owners of chicken farms will sustain heavy losses under the current circumstances. He added that lack of fuel is killing chickens, who cannot survive the cold weather. Farmers need approximately 150 tons of cooking gas per month to keep the hatcheries warm enough for the chickens to survive.  

 

Drinking Water

The entire population of the Gaza Strip, particularly those who live in high-rise buildings, has been affected by shortages of drinking water during the reporting period. These shortages have been caused by extensive power cuts and by the suspension of industrial fuel deliveries for the Gaza power plant. Sources in the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU), sated that lack of access to fuel in order to operate reserve generators, lack of spare parts required for maintenance, and lengthy power cuts have all seriously affected the delivery of drinking water. CMWU is concerned that all of Gaza’s 150 drinking water wells may be closed if the current situation continues, which would completely suspend the delivery of  water supplies throughout the Gaza Strip.  

Sewage Water

CMWU also stated that, as a result to fuel shortages and lack of vital spare parts, it now has a much reduced capacity regarding maintenance of water and sewage water facilities in the Gaza Strip. According to CMWU, the current situation is unsustainable, and will result in the shutting down of three sewage water treatment plants and 35 waste water treatment pumps, in which case sewage water will leak across the Gaza Strip, especially in densely populated areas where more water is consumed and discarded. This will produce a major potential health crisis that could threaten civilian lives. The flow of the untreated sewage water will pose risks to marine life as more untreated sewage water will be dumped at sea.  

Exports

During the reporting period, IOF continued to impose a complete ban on the export of local Gaza products to Israel, the West Bank and abroad. PCHR notes this ban has been in place since 13 June 2007. Hundreds of Gaza businesses have been unable to sell their products, and have incurred heavy financial losses as a result.

 

Nahal Oz Crossing

Developments at Nahal Oz Crossing during the reporting period:

  • The crossing was completely closed for 19 days. As a result, fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip were suspended and all fuel derivatives ran out.

Table I: Fuel Supplied to the Gaza Strip During the Reporting Period

Day

Date

Benzene

Diesel

Cooking gas

Industrial fuel

Saturday

1-11-2008

00

00

00

00

Sunday

2-11-2008

124,410

262,400

223.390

00

Monday

3-11-2008

00

00

202.380

00

Tuesday

4-11-2008

00

00

200

630,000

Wednesday

5-11-2008

00

00

00

00

Thursday

6-11-2008

00

00

00

00

Friday

7-11-2008

00

00

00

00

Saturday

8-11-2008

00

00

00

00

Sunday

9-11-2008

00

00

00

00

Monday

10-11-2008

00

00

00

00

Tuesday

11-11-2008

00

00

00

427,410

Wednesday

12-11-2008

00

00

00

223,800

Thursday

13-11-2008

00

00

00

00

Friday

14-11-2008

00

00

00

00

Saturday

15-11-2008

00

00

00

00

Sunday

16-11-2008

00

00

00

00

Monday

17-11-2008

00

00

00

00

Tuesday

18-11-2008

00

00

00

00

Wednesday

19-11-2008

00

00

00

00

Thursday

20-11-2008

00

00

00

00

Friday

21-11-2008

00

00

00

00

Saturday

22-11-2008

00

00

00

00

Sunday

23-11-2008

00

00

00

00

Monday

24-11-2008

00

00

00

440400

Total

 

124,410

262,400

425.770

1721610

Imports daily average

 

4976

9056

17030

68864

Percent of daily needs

 

4،1%

2،9%

4،8%

19،6%

  • During the reporting period, IOF suspended deliveries of industrial gasoline which is required for the Gaza Power Plant. As a result, the power plant shut down at 18:30 on Monday, 13 November, plunging many Gaza City neighbourhoods into darkness.

  • The Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDCO) also suffered severe shortages of power, and was GEDCO was forced to make schedules for the distribution of power to Gaza areas in order to manage its remaining fuel resources.  

  • Suheil Skeik, director of GEDCO, stated that his company suffered shortages of between 40-55% of the fuel they needed to maintain full operations during the reporting period. He also reiterated that GEDCO was lacking spare parts to main and repair equipment. He added that the Company is not able to provide power to water pumps or to hospitals in the current circumstances. During the reporting period GEDCO made schedules in order to distribute power to different parts of the Gaza Strip, but even so some places were suffering power cuts 16-20 hours a day across the Gaza Strip. Israel supplies 50% of Gaza’s overall electricity, though this percentage is not fixed. Suheil Skeik stated that Israel does not maintain the power lines under their control, which also leads to power failures. GEDCO does not have the capacity to repair broken power lines, or to provide power to facilities that suffer cuts, such as hospitals, because of lines overlapping and their inability to extend main or secondary lines to a specific area.

  • The Gaza Strip depends on three sources of power: the Gaza Power Plant provides 67-70 MW (34%) Israel provides 120 MW (58,5%) and Egypt provides 17.5 MW (7.5%)

  • During the reporting period, Nahal Oz crossing was completely closed for industrial fuel for 21 days. IOF opened the crossing for 4 days to allow the delivery of 1,721,610 liters of industrial gasoline. This was sufficient to operate the power plant for 5 days, and represented 19.6% of the fuel Gaza required during the reporting period. (The full quota of fuel required for the 25 day reporting period is 8,750,000 liters).

  • Nahal Oz crossing was completely closed for benzene supplies for 24 days, and was partially open for one day to allow the delivery of  124,410 liters of benzene. This is 4.1% of the overall amount of benzene Gaza required during the reporting period. Prior to its decision to reduce fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip in October 2007, IOF permitted the delivery of 120,000 liters of benzene to Gaza every day.

  • The crossing was completely closed for diesel supplies for 24 days, it was partially open for a single day to allow the delivery of 262,400 liters of diesel to Gaza; 9.2% of Gaza needs for the reporting period. The Gaza Strip used to daily import 350,000 liters of diesel before IOF decision to reduce fuel supplies to Gaza in October 2007.

  • IOF completely closed the crossing for 23 days for the supplies of cooking gas. Meanwhile, they partially opened the crossing for 2 days for the delivery of 425.770 tons of cooking gas; 4.8 of Gaza needs during the reporting period. Gaza used to daily import 350 tons of cooking gas prior to IOF decision to reduce fuel supplies to Gaza in October 2007.

Sofa crossing

IOF completely closed Sofa crossing throughout the 25-day reporting period. All basic goods, including humanitarian aid for UNRWA and the World Food Program (WFP), were banned during the reporting period.

In addition, IOF banned the delivery of goods that had been allowed to enter Gaza following the Tahdiya’ or ‘Period of calm’ that came into force on 19 June 2008. Prior to the Tahdiya, these goods, which included livestock, fresh fruit juice, cement, iron pipes, gas bottles, wood, welding iron bars and textile cloth had been banned for more than a year.  

The construction sector continued to struggle for survival due to continuing severe shortage in all construction materials, mainly cement. Dozens of development projects have been suspended or cancelled as a result, and thousands of construction sector workers have been laid of work.  

Imports of aggregate were also banned during the reporting period. PCHR notes that IOF had permitted aggregate to enter Gaza in limited quantities during October (2008), after a fifteen month ban. Gaza currently requires approximately 2,500 tons of aggregate per day to fully rehabilitate its construction industry.

  

Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) Crossing

Karm Abu Salem crossing was closed for 19 days and partially opened for six days. Since announcing the re-opening of the crossing and adopting it as the main commercial crossing for the Gaza Strip on 18 August, 2008, the IOF have closed the crossing for a total of 107 days.

The IOF did not allow the delivery of any imports, including humanitarian aid. IOF also did not allow the delivery of basic goods that had been allowed to enter to Gaza prior to the closure of the crossing. During the days the opening days, the crossing facilitated the entry of an average of 11 trucks per day.

 

In view of the data and documentation reported, PCHR calls upon the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the protection of civilians in times of war, to:

  1. Exert effective pressure on IOF to compel them to open all Gaza crossings, those used for commercial purposes and those used for civilian movement, to enable the Gaza civilian population to enjoy contact with the OPT and the outside world, and also to enable them to enjoy their basic 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 want to leave Gaza, including hundreds of patients who require treatment abroad, students enrolled in international universities, holders of residency permits in foreign countries, and other humanitarian cases, and for those who are stranded in Egypt to be able 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 taking place across the Gaza Strip.  

  4. Compel IOF to restrain from collective punishments of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, including tightening and restricting the closure of the Gaza border crossings.  

  5. Remind the State of Israel of its obligations towards the civilians of the Gaza Strip, as the Occupying Power, as regards article 55 of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention that 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 have a duty to commit to their obligation under article 1 of the Convention that provides for ensuring the implementation of the provisions of the convention by the State of the Israeli military occupation, in order to ensure protection to the Palestinian civilians of the Gaza Strip.  

 


 


[1] PCHR has a comprehensive list of the medicines that ran out, or remain in extremely short supply.  

[2] PCHR notes this death occurred several days before the start of the current reporting period: however, it has been included in this report as the detail of this case were only released at the beginning of this reporting period.