The Sate of Gaza strip Border Crossings

26 May to 25 Jun

 

 

Summary

During the 31-day reporting period, Gaza Strip border crossings used for goods and civilians movement remained closed. The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continued to impose the siege and closure as well as economic and social strangulation of the Gaza Strip, resulting in the escalation of poverty and unemployment rates to critical levels. UN reports indicated that 600,000 people (40% of Gaza population) do not have access to sufficient food.

During the reporting period, the most significant effects of closure imposed on Gaza were as follows:

·        During the 31-day reporting period, Rafah crossing was opened only for one day and for few hours. It opened to allow 300 Palestinians stuck in the Egyptian to enter to Gaza,

·        Beit Hanoon (Eirez) crossing was closed, throughout the reporting period, for Palestinian civilians. Only restricted number of patients were allowed to cross the crossing under very complicated procedures,

·        Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) remained completely closed throughout the reporting period,

·        Living conditions in the Gaza Strip continued to deteriorate due to the closure and the scarcity of foodstuffs and medicine caused by the price increase,

·        Some 900 prisoners from Gaza Strip are still deprived from their right to see their relatives for more than a year,

·        The patients allowed to access hospitals in Israel or the West bank decreased to 11 patients daily compared to a daily average of 50 patients in the same month of the last year. 

·        During the reporting period, 5 patients from the Gaza Strip, including 3 women and a female child, passed away either due to hindering their access to external hospitals or due to shortage of medicine in Gaza hospitals.

·        Fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip via Nahal Oz crossing are still very restricted. Only 9.7% of Gaza needs of benzene, 30.9% of diesel and 39.25% of cooking gas were supplied to Gaza during the reporting period,

·        35 waste water treatment plants are still suffering from fuel shortage and approximately 50,000 cubic meters of untreated waste water are daily pumped in the sea causing serious environmental pollution,

·        Gaza residents are still facing transportation problems caused by the fuel crisis. This coincided with the start of the final exams of 35,428 secondary students and with the study start for some 52,000 students at universities and colleges.


 

During the 31-day reporting period, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continued tightening the stifling siege on the Gaza Strip causing further suffering to the civilians whose right to free movement is being violated for about two years. The siege policy continued to affect every aspect of civilian life, including supplies of food and medicine, fuel, construction materials, and raw materials required for various economic sectors. IOF also continued to prevent exports leaving Gaza, whilst shortages of goods inside the Gaza Strip led to unprecedented price increases. Poverty and unemployment rates are currently estimated at 80% and 55% respectively[1].

During the reporting period, the single most significant problem was the fuel shortages which led to the closure of all gas stations in the Gaza Strip. As a result, public transport was paralyzed, whilst health services, including environmental health services, were seriously affected. Provisions of safe drinking water were also seriously affected. The transport paralysis caused by the fuel crisis affected education and public services facilities; the general secondary exams were disrupted.

In addition, severe restrictions continued to be imposed on civilian movements to and from the Gaza Strip. Rafah International Crossing Point crossing remained closed throughout the 31-day reporting period, while a few civilians were permitted to travel via Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing. Civilians in the Gaza Strip remained isolated from the external world including the West Bank, occupied East Jerusalem, and abroad.

Conditions at the Gaza Strip commercial crossings also deteriorated. Al-Mentar (Karni) crossing, the Gaza Strip’s main commercial crossing, remained completely closed for 23 days and was partially opened for 8 days in order to allow the delivery of some food items only. Nahal Oz Crossing remained closed for 11 days for fuel supplies and was partially opened for 20 days to allow the delivery of limited quantities of industrial fuel for the Gaza Strip power station, diesel and cooking gas. Sofa Crossing remained completely closed throughout the 31-day reporting period for aggregate and construction materials, but was opened a few hours per day for 21 days in order to allow the delivery of some humanitarian aid. Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing remained completely closed throughout the 31-day reporting period.

During the reporting period, PCHR documented the death of 5 patients from the Gaza strip due to detaining their right to access to external hospitals or due to shortage in medicine in Gaza hospital. Thus, the number of patients who passed away since tightening the sniffling siege on the Gaza Strip increased to 40, including 13 women and children.

Following are the most significant developments at the Gaza Strip border crossings during the reporting period:

 

Civilians Crossings

During the 31-day reporting period, severe restrictions continued to be imposed on civilians’ movement via Bit Hanoon crossing and Rafah International Crossing Point. Only a very limited number of diplomats, international employees in international organizations and some Palestinian patients were allowed to pass via Beit Hanoon crossing to Israel and the West Bank under very complicated procedures. Following are the most notable developments on Gaza civilian crossings during the reporting period:

 

Rafah International Crossing Point

·              Since 12 Jun. 2007, the crossing has been closed for 371 days,

·              During the reporting period, the Egyptian authorities exceptionally allowed a limited number of Palestinian civilians to cross the crossing as follows:

1.            on 22 May 2008, 13 Palestinians, including patients returning from treatment journeys and Hamas delegation returning from Cairo, were allowed to enter the Gaza Strip,

2.            on 24 May 2008, 2 Palestinian civilians were allowed to enter to Egypt via the crossing,

3.            on 18 May 2008, 35 civilians, including patients and their companions, returning from treatment journeys entered Gaza via the crossing,

4.            on 27 May 2008, a UN fact-finding mission, headed by The Honorable Desmond Tutu, investigating a massacre committed by the IOF in Nov. 2006 against Al-Athamna family in Beit Hanoon, was allowed to enter Gaza via the crossing,

5.            on 31 May 2008, a 10-member delegation from the American Council for the National Interest was allowed to enter Gaza via the crossing,

6.            on 1 Jun. 2008, 29 Palestinians, including patients and their companions returning from treatment journeys in Egypt and Turkey, were allowed to enter to Gaza via the crossing. Also in the same day, 19 patients were allowed to enter Egypt for treatment. The American delegation was allowed to exit Gaza via the crossing on this day.

7.            on 10 Jun. 2008, 17 civilians, all of them wounded people who had been treated in Turkey, were allowed to return to Gaza via the crossing,

8.            on 12 Jun. 2008, 11 handicapped athletes were allowed to exist Gaza via the crossing to participate in a sports course for the handicapped, 

9.            on 14 Jun. 2008, a 4-member delegation from Hamas was allowed to enter to Egypt to discuss the Tahde’ya efforts with Egyptian officers,

10.        on 18 Jun. 2008, 17 patients returning from treatment journey in Egypt were allowed to enter to Gaza via the crossing,

11.        on 19 Jun. 2008, about 250 Palestinian civilians stuck on the Egyptian side were allowed to enter to Gaza. On the same day, 3 Palestinian civilians were allowed to exit Gaza via the crossing,

12.        on 21 Jun. 2008, 7 handicapped athletes were allowed to enter to Gaza via the crossing after their participation to qualify for a sport event for the handicapped,

·              Hundreds of Palestinian civilians, including dozens of students and patients in need for urgent treatment, are still stuck in the Gaza Strip since June 2007.

·              According to the Border Crossing Management of the Palestinian Police, 5,571 civilians from the Gaza Strip are seeking traveling abroad as follows:

                there are 2,383 civilians who seek traveling to Arab countries whilst there are 860 civilians are seeking traveling to non-Arab states,

                the 860 civilians seeking traveling to non-Arab states include 751 persons who have residency permits and 109 who have visas,

                there are some 650 students who were accepted for studies in international universities; including 534 students in Arab universities in the Arab World and 71 students in universities in non-Arab states,

                the 2383 civilians who have residency permits in the Arab states are distributed as follows: 796 civilians in Saudi Arabia, 380 in Jordan, 152 in Morocco,  931 in the Arab Emirates and 124 in other Arab states,

                those wanting to travel to Egypt are 1969; including 1439 civilians who have residency permits in Egypt and 230 civilians who are stuck in Gaza.

 

Beit Hanoon Crossing

 

During the reporting period, the most significant developments at the crossing were as follows:

·              severe restrictions continued to be imposed on civilians’ movement via the crossing throughout the reporting period,

·              IOF allowed diplomats, some international employees in international organizations and some patients with critical diseases to travel through the crossing. IOF completely closed the crossing for these categories for 6 days during the reporting period. Also during the reporting period, IOF allowed 10 merchants daily to travel through the crossing and completely closed the crossing for them for 14 days,

·              the IOF completely closed the crossing for 5 days for no reasons and 1 day for a Jewish religious holiday,

·              since 17 June 2008, the crossing has been closed for Palestinian merchants.

 

Prisoners’ Right:

Since 6 June 2008, Gaza families have been deprived from visiting their some 900 relatives in jail in Israel for no reasons. This denial is a violation of all conventions and covenants relating to prisoners rights. 150 out of the Gaza Strip 900 prisoners had already been deprived of all visitation rights prior to suspending a visitation program run by the International Committee of the Red Cross on the grounds of security.

 

Health Status:

During the reporting period, IOF continued to hinder the passage of dozens of patients via the crossing. It deprived hundreds of those requiring urgent treatment in the West Bank or Israel from their right to receive treatment. Patients who obtained permits for treatment in Israel or in the West Bank averaged 11/ day. This means there has been a decrease of patients given permits of 15% and 45% in comparison with the last month and the month before respectively. The daily average of patients who obtained permits the previous month was 13 and for the month prior to that was 20. The decrease in comparison with the same period of the last year amounted to 78% since the patients given permits averaged 50 per day in that period of the last year.

PCHR notes that patients applying for treatment in Israel or the West Bank are suffering from serious diseases and are in urgent need for treatment that is not available in Gaza. Furthermore, these patients are not able to access Egyptian hospitals due to the continued closure of Rafah crossing. Following are the most significant developments at the health status level at Beit Hanoon crossing during the reporting period:

 

1.            on 9 June 2008, the IOF completely closed the crossing for patients for Jewish holidays,

2.            the crossing was also completely closed for patients on 30 May 2008 and from 7 to 21 June 2008 for weekends and for unspecified reasons,

3.            IOF allowed 345 patients to pass via the crossing for treatment in Israel and the West Bank,

4.            200 applications for travel permits for patients have been submitted by the Ministry of Health representative in the District Civil Liaison Office are still awaiting responses,

5.            IOF continue to prevent Palestinian ambulances from transporting patients to hospitals in Israel or in the West Bank. However, it allows some ambulances transporting critically ill patients to deliver patients to Israeli ambulances. During their passage via Beit Hanoun crossing, Palestinian patients are subjected to humiliating inspection procedures, which can seriously delay their access and can result in patients being forced to return to the Gaza Strip,

6.            During the reporting period, PCHR documented the death of 5 patients, including 3 women and 1 girl, due to preventing them from traveling outside of Gaza for treatment or due to shortages of medication. To date, the number of patients who have died as a result of being prevented from traveling for treatment outside of Gaza or as a result of shortages of medication inside Gaza, stands at 40, including 13 women and 9 children. The patients who died during the reporting period are:

·              on 27 May 2008, Jehad Abdol Rahim Jaber Ali, 20 from Jabalia Refugee Camp, died when he was prevented from passing Beit Hanoon crossing for treatment in Tal Hashomer Hospital in Israel.

 

 

Usama Ali, the deceased’s broth, stated that:

“Following medical tests in Al-Shefa’a Hospital on 17 April 2008, my brother was detected to have bone marrow cancer. We applied for a referral to Tal Hashomer Hospital in Israel and we got approval on 22 April 2008. 3 weeks later, we had a call from the Palestinian Civil Liaison Office telling us to go to Beit Hanoon crossing for an interview with Israeli intelligence officers. On 14 May 2008, I went with my brother Jehad to Beit Hanoon where we were questioned. During the questioning, my brother’s health deteriorated. A doctor came and treated him for half an hour. When my brother’s health stabilized and the questioning finished, the officer told us to return home and wait for the permit. Then my brother’s health deteriorated and was forced to enter Al-Shefa’a hospital due to the delay in issuing the permit for treatment in Israel. His condition deteriorated daily until he died at about 19:00 o’clock on 27 May 2008.”

The Department of Treatment Abroad in Al-Shefa’a Hospital reported that Ali got a referral for treatment in Tal Hashomer Hospital on 27 April 2008.

·        on 3 June 2008, Su’ad Khamis Ibrahim Abu Jarad, 72 from Izbat Beit Hanoon, died after her health deteriorated. The deceased was prevented from accessing hospitals in Egypt although she exerted efforts beyond her capacity as an elderly woman and although she reached Rafah crossing several time as she was prevented from passing.

Sahar Abu Jarad is the daughter-in-law the deceased woman. She informed PCHR that her mother in law was diagnosed with having kidney stones and she received treatment at Al-Shefa’a Hospital. However, the deceased’s health deteriorated since she also already suffered from diabetes and heart problems. Sahar Abu Jarad added:

“Following a sudden deterioration in the health of my mother-in-law, we applied for a medical referral to Naser Institute in Egypt on 26 March 2008. We could not reach the hospital because Rafah crossing was closed. Furthermore, we could not apply for a referral to Israel since the Israeli hospitals only receive very critical cases.  On 28 April 2008, we renewed the expired referral and went to Rafah crossing as we knew it would open for patients for a single day but we could not pass. On that day we returned home when her health deteriorated. After the second referral expired, we renewed it for the third time. We waited for the crossing to open but to no avail. The health of my mother-in-law continued to deteriorate and we took her to Kamal Adwan Hospital several times. She died at home on 3 June 2008.”

The Department of Treatment Abroad in Al-Shefa’a Hospital reported that Abu Jarad got a referral for treatment in Naser Institute on 26 March 2008.

·        on 4 June 2008, Rania Abdol Salam Mohammed Thabet, 23 from Al-Saftawi neighborhood in Gaza city, died after she suddenly suffered dramatic health deterioration. The deceased was prevented from traveling to Egypt for treatment. 

Kamal Thabet, 48, is her uncle. He stated that his niece was diagnosed with cancer on 13 May 2008. We immediately submitted for a medical referral to Naser Intitute in Egypt and received an approval and accomplished all procedures. My niece who needed bone marrow transplant waited 2 weeks for the opening of Rafah crossing. Her health then deteriorated and she entered the cancer department in Al-Shefa’a hospital 10 days before she died. At Al-Shefa’a hospital, she had chemotherapy but she had no health improvements. She died on 4 June 2008.”

The Department of Treatment Abroad in Al-Shefa’a Hospital reported that Thabet got a referral for treatment in Naser Institute on 20 May 2008.

·        on 9 June 2008, Amina Subhi Ali Mqat, 55 from Al-Tufah neighborhood in Gaza city, died due to preventing her from traveling to follow her health abroad.

Mohammed Mqat, 24, her son, informed PCHR that his mother suffered ffrom cardiomyopathy and from sporadic water on the chest for 20 years. He added:

“At the start of 2006, my mother received treatment in Egypt. Doctors installed an apparatus to regulate the heart rate. The doctors advised her to follow-up with the hospital every 3 months. Thence, she kept following up with the Egyptian hospitals for analysis and medical checks. The closure of Rafah crossing for about a year deprived her from following up on her health condition. Her health started to deteriorate. We took her to Al-Shefa’a hospital for treatment but to no avail. At about 22:00 o’clock on 19 June 2008, my mother died. Doctors said she died because of a defect in the apparatus installed to regulate the heart rate. This defect occurred because the apparatus was not followed up for a long time”.

The Department of Treatment Abroad in Al-Shefa’a Hospital reported that Mqat got a referral for treatment in Palestine Hospital in Cairo on 23 March 2008.

·        on 17 June 2008, a child, Manal Odeh Mesbah Odeh, 15 , from Al-Zeitoon neighborhood, died following a severe deterioration on her health. The child, with her father, were subjected to cruel procedures at Beit hanoon crossing. The cruel procedures included waiting for long hours, investigation and then returning to Gaza without accessing the Arab Healthcare Center in Ramallah for treatment. The child was also prevented to access the Egyptian hospitals due to Rafah crossing closure.

According to her father, the child suffered kidney cancer that was detected on 27 March 2007. The child underwent surgery at Al-Shefa’a Hospital on 3 April 2007. Doctors took a sample from a tumor in her left kidney and tested it.  A month later, results revealed it was a malignant tumor. The father added:

 

“We immediately applied for a medical referral and I got approval for treatment in Dar Al-Salam Hospital in Egypt on 8 May 2007. Manal received treatment and then were returned to Gaza on 1 June 2007. She continued receiving the treatment at Al-Shefa’a Hospital where she received 20 doses of chemotherapy. On 31 October 2007, doctors were obliged to stop the chemotherapy given to Manal. She then had paresis. She suffered from inflation of the surgery she had in April 2007 and severe pain throughout her body. I applied for a medical referral and I got approval for treatment in the Arab Healthcare Center in Ramallah on 9 March 2008. At about 6:00 o’clock on 9 March 2008, I arrived with my daughter at Beit Hanoon crossing. We registered our names and waited. The crossing opened at 8:00 o’clock. We waited under very cruel conditions till 16:00 o’clock when IOF at the crossing called the Palestinian Liaison Office and told them to let me enter for an interview. When I got into the crossing, my ID card was taken and I was asked to stay in the waiting area. I waited for an hour. Then I was led to the interrogation room underground. I was checked and questioned. They asked me why I was at the crossing. I replied I was there for my daughter’s treatment in Ramallah. They asked me who covered the referral costs. I replied it was the Ministry of Health. They asked me about the transport costs to Ramallah and I replied I had them because I had work. They asked me about my wife and her mobile number. I was questioned about my sons and their work and about my sons-in law, their work and phone numbers. They took my mobile and took all the data it contained. They then asked me about the phone numbers of my son-in-law and my daughter. I asked them for my mobile to give them the numbers. In that moment, my wife phoned to inform when we were leaving to Ramallah. The Israeli officer took the mobile and told her we were leaving in 15 minutes. Then the questioning continued for an hour. The officer who questioned me gave my ID to another officer and asked me to go with him and to wait in the waiting area. I waited for 2 hours. Then a third officer came, took me by my hand, led me to a gate and returned me to Gaza. In the following day, I went to the Department of Treatment Abroad in Al-Shefa’a Hospital and applied for a medical referral to Egypt. A week later, I got an approval for treatment in Naser Institute in Cairo. We could not leave the Strip since Rafah crossing was closed. Accordingly, my daughter’s health deteriorated and we took her to Al-shefa’a hospital several times. She was given blood units and paregorics. The shortage or unavailability of medicine required for my daughter and the delay of our access to Egypt led to her death at about 5:30 on Tuesday, 17 June 2008”.

The Department of Treatment Abroad in Al-Shefa’a Hospital reported that Odeh got a referral for treatment in Naser Institute Hospital in Cairo on 14 January 2008.

 

Commercial Crossings:

During the reporting period, the IOF continued to prevent the export of Gaza products and to reduce imports into the Gaza Strip. Imports were limited to international aid and limited quantities of basic goods.

 

Al-Mentar (Karni) crossing:

 

During the reporting period,

·        the crossing completely closed for 23 days for exports and imports. It opened for imports for a few hours per day for 8 days to allow the delivery of 489 truckloads of grains and animal fodder,

·        IOF continued to prevent Gaza exports to Israel, the West Bank, and abroad. This ban has was enforced since 13 June 2007,

·        Since 13 June 2007, the crossing has been completely closed for 303 days. It was partially opened for 70 days to deliver wheat, flour and fodder. The continued closure of Al-Mentar crossing caused almost complete paralysis in civilians’ life and exposed the entire strip to a humanitarian crisis,

·        The severe reduction of imports via the crossing caused serious shortages of foodstuffs, medicine and medical supplies. The crossing closure destroyed the Gaza economy; 70% of Gaza production sectors have shut down[2].

 

Sofa Crossing:

During the reporting period,

 

·        The crossing completely closed for 10 days. It opened for imports for a few hours daily on 21 days to allow the delivery of limited quantities of humanitarian aid to UNRWA and to the World Food Program (WFP) and some basic goods for local traders,

·        IOF continued to completely ban all imports of aggregate and construction materials to the Gaza Strip. This ban has been enforced since 15 June 2007,

·        The crossing opened only to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to UNRWA and WFP. 1047 truckloads were allowed via the crossing. The trucks carried rice, flour, powder milk and medicine to UNRWA, Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Health and UNICEF. In addition, limited quantities of sugar, fruits, frozen meat, dairy products and salts were delivered via the crossing to local traders,

·        IOF banned the imports of livestock. IOF imposed ban on livestock imports to Gaza strip on 18 December 2007. Thence, IOF allowed the imports of 1864 heads of cattle that is not sufficient to the Gaza Strip demand of fresh meat; Gaza strip consumes 3,000 heads of cattle per month. As a result, fresh meat prices increased from about 30 NIS to about 50 NIS,

·        The construction sector crisis continued. Due to chronic shortages of construction materials, prices have quadrupled since the closure tightened. This has hindered dozens of development projects across the Gaza Strip. Construction and housing projects have been indefinitely postponed, causing the layoff of thousands of construction workers.

 

 

Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing

·        the crossing remained completely closed throughout the 31-day reporting period. Neither humanitarian aid nor basic goods were permitted to enter to Gaza via the crossing.

 

Nahal Oz crossing (fuel imports)

 

During the reporting period,

·        the crossing completely closed for 11 days causing the expiry of fuel stocks in the Gaza strip,

·        Very limited quantities of benzene (only 361,000 liters) were permitted to enter to Gaza via the crossing. This constitutes only 9.7% of Gaza demand of benzene for the reported period. Prior to the IOF decision to reduce fuel supplied to Gaza, 120,000 liter of benzene used to be delivered to Gaza daily,

·        The crossing was closed for diesel supplies for 15 days. It opened for 16 days to permit the delivery of 3,357,950 liters of diesel (30.9% of Gaza demand for the reported period). Prior to IOF decision to reduce fuel supplied to Gaza, 350,000 liter of diesel used to be delivered to Gaza every day,

·        The crossing closed for cooking gas supplies for 11 days. It opened for 20 days to permit the delivery of 3,302.79 tons of cooking gas (39.25% of Gaza demand for the reported period). Gaza daily demand of cooking gas is 350 tons.

 

Quantities of fuel supplied to the Gaza Strip during the reporting period:

Date

Benzene in liters

Diesel in liters

Cooking gas in tons

Industrial fuel in liters

26-5-2008

00

268,100

166.90

742,000

27-5-2008

70,000

155,000

252,00

736,000

28-5-2008

00

00

88.00

00

29-5-2008

00

00

00

00

30-5-2008

00

00

00

00

31-5-2008

00

00

00

00

1-6-2008

00

260,000

620.00

775,000

2-6-2008

00

260,000

210.00

779,000

3-6-2008

76,000

280,000

236.00

676,000

4-6-2008

00

00

83.00

00

5-6-2008

00

00

00

00

6-6-2008

00

00

00

00

7-6-2008

00

00

00

00

8-6-2008

00

98,800

80.20

426,000

9-6-2008

00

00

00

00

10-6-2008

00

150,000

80.00

270,000

11-6-2008

00

179,000

130.00

279,000

12-6-2008

00

81,200

88,38

108,400

13-6-2008

45,000

131,000

173.00

510,000

14-6-2008

00

00

00

00

15-6-2008

00

00

88.61

212,000

16-6-2008

00

127,000

85.00

126,000

17-6-2008

00

00

00

00

18-6-2008

00

68,430

26.88

83,000

19-6-2008

00

254,000

380.69

1,085,600

20-6-2008

68,000

325,420

200.130

518,400

21-6-2008

00

00

00

00

22-6-2008

00

381,000

176

740,000

23-6-2008

102,000

720,000

323

00

24-6-2008

00

00

91

822

25-6-2008

00

00

00

00

Total of supplied quantities

361,000

3,357,950

3,302.79

8,148,400

Average/day

11,645

108,320

106,54

262,838

 

Impacts of fuel reduction:

The fuel crisis continued to impact civilian life in the Gaza Strip during the reporting period. The reduced supplies of fuel did not address the basic needs of the civilians. The fuel crisis affected all aspects of life including transports, fishing boats and chicken farms. The continuation of the reduction of fuel supplies caused restriction of the work of Gaza 145 gas stations only to few hours to distribute the reduced quantities they receive. Gaza power plant is still working at partial capacity due to shortage of industrial fuel while it stopped working for several days due to the expiry of its fuel stock. There were also serious shortages of cooking gas.

Private and public transport continued to be partially paralyzed. For more than 2 months, PCHR noted that there have been no improvements in transport movement. Thousands of vehicles were taken off the roads while taxis received only 10% of their needs of fuel. According to different local resources, more than 75% of private and public transport was forced to stop. Accordingly, access to workplaces, schools, universities, hospitals and healthcare center was severely affected.

The chronic fuel crisis also affected education facilities although education institutions took procedures to confront the crisis. University students and Tawjihi students particularly suffered from the chronic fuel crisis. The crisis coincided with the Tawjihi and university examination at the start of June 2008. The partial paralysis of the transport services delayed students’ access to their exams.

On 9 June 2008, 35,428 Tajihi students in the Gaza Strip began taking their exams. A great number of these students faced problems in accessing the 207 examination centers distributed throughout the Gaza Strip. In addition, 2100 Tawjihi Examiners who face difficulty in accessing the halls specialized for the exams correction.

With regards to university students, thousands of them faced difficulty in accessing their final exams that started at the start of June 2007. Sources from Gaza universities and colleges stated the final exams were held despite the transport disruption. This decision was taken to enable the students to register for the summer term that begins in July. To alleviate the students’ suffering to access the exams halls and then return to home, the sources indicated that some procedures were taken. 52,000 university and college students went to their final exams of the second term 2007/2008 under very difficult transport conditions.

PCHR monitored the impact of the fuel crisis on water and sewage services. Sources from the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) reported that the CMWU suffered from the chronic fuel crisis since the beginning of the current year. The Sources stated that the fuel quantities supplied to CMWU were reduced from 150,000 liters prior to the crisis to varying amounts not exceeding a third of the needed quantities of fuel. As a result, 35 waste water treatment plants were affected while daily pumping of 40,000 to 50,000 m3 of untreated or partially treated waste water into the sea continued; thus increasing the environmental pollution risks in the Gaza sea. Although several international parties have been intervening for more than 11 months, IOF are still preventing the delivery of equipment, water pumps and electric tools that CMUW requires to operate drinking water wells and waste water treatment plant.

 

In light of all the facts contained in this report, PCHR emphasizes the following:

1.            siege is a form of collective punishment and revenge that IOF commit against civilians in the Palestinian Territory,

2.            the siege is a severe violation of the International Humanitarian Law, 4th Geneva Convention relating to the protection of civilians in time of war and the International Covenant on Economic; social and Cultural Rights, and

3.            The siege policy has had a destructive impact on all aspects of civilian life and leads to the continued deterioration of civilians’ living conditions.

 

PCHR calls upon the International Community to:

1.      continuingly pressure on IOF to open all the border crossings connecting the Gaza Strip to the external world,

2.      Urgently and promptly intervene to open Rafah crossing to end the suffering of some 5600 civilians stuck in the Gaza strip and the suffering of hundreds of Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side. The civilians stuck in the Gaza strip include students, patients and foreign residency holders,

3.      urgently and promptly intervene to ensure commitment to the provisions of the International Humanitarian Law and the International Human Rights Law to end the severe deterioration taking place in the living conditions of Gaza civilians,

4.      force IOF to stop the collective punishment policy imposed on Gaza civilians including the crossings closure that violates civilians’ economic and social rights, and

5.      Reminds Israel of its commitments, as an occupying power, towards Gaza civilians. These commitments are provided for in article 55 of the 1949 Geneva Convention: ” 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, except for use by the occupation forces and administration personnel, and then only if the requirements of the civilian population have been taken into account”. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the 4th Geneva Convention to undertake to its duties provided in the 1st article and relative to ensuring Israel’s respect to the provisions of the convention.   

 

  


 


[1] Resource: World Bank’s estimates

[2] Source: a report on Economic Sectors in the Gaza strip. Ministry of National Commerce, April 2008.