Published on April 29, 2001

 

CLOSURE UPDATE NO. 35

A Report by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights on the Closure Imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip

 

                   

The Israeli occupation authorities have continued to impose a total siege on the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem and areas of the Palestinian National Authority since September 2000.  They have continued to close Rafah Border Crossing with Egypt, Gaza International Airport and Beit Hanoun (Erez) Checkpoint.  They also closed Al-Karama Crossing between the West Bank and Jordan.  On Tuesday, April 17, 2001, the Israeli occupation forces re-closed Salah El-Din Street (the main road between the north and south of the Gaza Strip) at Al-Matahen junction and near “Kfar Darom” and “Netzarim” settlements, dividing the Gaza Strip into three isolated parts. 

 All of this was accompanied by serious and qualitative escalation in human rights violations perpetrated by the Israeli occupation forces against Palestinian civilians.  These forces broke into areas under full control of the Palestinian National Authority in Rafah and Beit Hanoun.  Palestinian civilians in the two areas were displaced from their houses and farms.  Furthermore, Israeli occupation soldiers threatened to fire at anyone trying to enter the areas reoccupied by the Israeli forces. 

 During the Intifada, such encroachments by the Israeli occupation forces into Palestinian controlled areas have been routine.  Nevertheless, the international media reports often misrepresent what is in fact happening on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  When the Israeli occupation forces broke into Beit Hanoun on April 16, 2001, international media reports described the incident as an unprecedented one, giving the impression that the Gaza Strip had been a “liberated” area, free of any Israeli presence, before April 16, 2001.  In fact, the Israeli occupation forces have controlled and continue to control 42% of the total area of the Gaza Strip, which is approximately 365 square kilometers. Contrary to Israeli media reports and governmental statements proclaiming an ease in movement restrictions, PCHR’s documentation and the facts on the ground show that the internal and external siege imposed on the Gaza Strip by the Israeli occupation forces continues.  Under this siege, the economic and social conditions in the Gaza Strip continue to deteriorate, having disastrous impacts on trade, health and labor.  For example, Gaza Electricity Distribution Company has suffered big losses due to the continued siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.

 

This is the 35th special update in a series published by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights on the total closure imposed by the Israeli occupation forces on the Gaza Strip.  The series documents the impacts of the closure on the economic and social conditions in the Gaza Strip.  This update covers the following:

 

  •      Continued restrictions on commercial transactions and further deteriroration of the Palestinian economy,

  •   Gaza Electricity Districution Company’s large losses,

  •    Continued labor crisis in the Gaza Strip,

  •    Continued restrictions on freedom of movement,

  •    Further deterioration of health conditions,

  •    Continued military restrictions on fishing,

  •   Denial of the right of education,

  •    Denial of the right of free access to the holy sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem,

  •    Continued prevention of visitation of Palestinian prisoners, and

  •    Denial of the entry of newspapers into the Gaza Strip.

 

1.        Continued Restrictions on Commercial Transactions and Further Deterioration of the Palestinian Economy

 The Israeli occupation forces have maintained a total siege on the Gaza Strip.  They have continued to close most crossings and outlets between the Gaza Strip and the outside world.  For example, Rafah Border Crossing with Egypt has been closed since March 18, 2001, Gaza International Airport has been closed since February 14, 2001, and Rafah Commercial Crossing has been closed since October 8, 2000.  The Israeli occupation forces have also continued to close Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing, one of the major crossings for Palestinian trade, causing further deterioration of the Palestinian economy.  In this context, according to a recent report by the Palestinian Ministry of Finance, the total losses to the Palestinian economy have been estimated at US$ 3,868 million

 

  •          Al-Mentar (Karni) Outlet

 Al-Mentar (Karni) Outlet, one of the major commercial crossings of the Gaza Strip, has been frequently closed by the Israeli occupation authorities since the outbreak of Al-Aqsa Intifada.  Under the closures, the entry of goods, especially construction raw materials, has been obstructed.

 The Israeli occupation authorities had already abandoned the “Levoi” system, under which Palestinian trucks would cross Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing in convoys accompanied by Israeli security.  All commercial movement was shifted to Al-Mentar (Karni) Outlet.  In March 2001, the average number of trucks that crossed the outlet was 300 trucks daily, 180-200 of which transported imported goods.  Before the Intifada, 450 trucks used to cross the outlet, and another 120 used to cross Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing.

 Presently, transport of goods at Al-Mentar (Karni) Outlet involves the transfer of the goods from Palestinian trucks to Israeli ones under strict security surveillance.  The transfer costs an estimated 350 NIS (approximately US$85) per truck.  The Israeli occupation forces often close the outlet for several hours and sometimes for the entire day.  Consequently, some goods, such as vegetables, flowers, strawberries and other foodstuffs, often rot.

 

1)        Citrus Exportation

 Export of citrus fruit from the Gaza Strip to Jordan has halted. 

 Export of citrus fruit to Israel occurs through Al-Mentar (Karni) Outlet by the transfer of the produce from Palestinians trucks to Israeli trucks.  An amount of 350 NIS (approximately US$ 85) must be paid for each truck in addition to 70 NIS (approximately US$ 17) that must be paid for each ton of citrus transported by Israeli trucks.  Export of citrus fruits to Israel has decreased significantly this year.  Only 500 tons of citrus have been exported daily since January 15, 2001.

 

2)      Vegetable Exportation from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank and Israel

 Under the current siege, vegetable exports from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank and Israel have decreased.  Only 20 trucks, down from the 60 used before the Intifada, transport vegetables daily from the Gaza Strip.  The decrease is attributed to the following: 

·      The total siege on the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the frequent internal closures, the last of which was on Tuesday, April 17, 2001;

·       The decrease in agricultural production due to land leveling and the blockade of roads leading to farms, obstructing the cultivation of agricultural products; and

·       The increased costs of transportation at Al-Mentar (Karni) Outlet.

 

3)   Construction Raw Materials

 For more than two months, the Israeli occupation authorities have allowed the entry of construction raw materials, especially cement, in large amounts into the Gaza Strip.  However, due to a shortage of aggregate, construction in the Gaza Strip has been almost stopped.  On Friday, March 16, 2001, the Israeli occupation authorities reopened Sofa Crossing, but under strict conditions, which caused an increase in the price of one ton of aggregate from 23 NIS (approximately US$ 5.6) to 65 NIS (US$16).[1] In this context, according to a number of Palestinian traders, the price of one ton of aggregate has recently increased to 85 NIS (approximately US$ 21), which has negatively affected the construction sector in the Gaza Strip.  Many Palestinian contractors expressed their dismay and anger over the halting of work.  They suffered large losses, particularly due to the fact that the wood used in construction decayed in the absence of other raw construction materials.

 At the end of March 2001, after denying the import of aggregate into the Gaza Strip for four months, the Israeli occupation authorities allowed the entry of limited amounts of aggregate, which was used in the manufacture of flagstones manufacture, into the Gaza Strip.  Nevertheless, the export of flagstones from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank and Israel halted due to the shortage of other raw materials, the high cost of transportation and competition from Israeli factories.

 

2.     Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDC) Suffers Large Losses

 The sector of electrical services in the Gaza Strip has suffered large losses since the outbreak of Al-Aqsa Intifada on September 29, 2001, as a result of continued Israeli  measures taken against the Palestinian people.  According to the public relations official at Gaza Electricity Distribution Company, Jamal El-Derdessawi, the Israeli occupation forces willfully shelled electrical transmitters and electricity networks, especially in those areas that frequently witnessed clashes between these forces and Palestinian civilians, and in areas that were targeted for house demolition and land leveling.  The areas most heavily affected include Rafah, Khan Yunis, Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia.  The Israeli occupation forces also shelled underground electricity generators, designed to support electricity networks, that provide required electricity for the entire Gaza Strip.

 Furthermore, the Israeli occupation forces have continually obstructed the work of electricity technicians who repair electricity networks that are destroyed by the Israeli forces.  This obstruction occurs in spite of previous arrangements made with Israel to give technicians access to areas otherwise closed off.  Under such obstacles, some areas stay for long without electricity, along with which all economic and social activities stop.

 In addition, daily violations and measures by the Israeli occupation forces have obstructed developing and implementing projects which GEDC, since the Israeli occupation authorities prevented the entry of most construction and electrical raw materials.

 GEDC also suffers large losses due to overdue bills which have not been paid by many Palestinian citizens who have lost their incomes under the current siege, especially laborers.  The amount of money that had been due to be paid by citizens to GEDC until April 1, 2001 was 91,740,330 NIS (approximately US$ 22,375,700), but only 9,326,220 NIS (approximately US$ 2,274,700), approximately 10% of the due amount, were received by GEDC.

 To preserve the continuity of the services it provides citizens with, GEDC has borrowed 20 million NIS (approximately US$ 4.9 million), to cover a part of the bill due to an Israeli company which provides GEDC with electricity.  Thus, GEDC has to suffer additional losses, since it has to pay interest rates to the bank, in addition to interest rates that it has to pay to the Israeli company which was estimated in March 2001 at approximately 497,250 NIS (approximately 121,300).

  

3. Continued Labor Crisis in the Gaza Strip

 From Tuesday, March 17 to Monday, April 9, 2001, the Israeli occupation authorities issued 1,559 work permits to Palestinian laborers.  Those laborers were permitted to work in citrus cultivation, provided that they were over 40 years of age.  On Tuesday, March 27 and Wednesday, March 28, 164 and 62 work permits, respectively, were issued to laborers, but only 10 laborers were able to reach their work places.  On April 8 and 9, 2001, 816 and 517 work permits, respectively, were issued to laborers.  The following is a table showing the distribution of work permits among areas of the Gaza Strip in various fields of work:

 

Area

Agriculture

Services

Industry

Construction

Total

Jabalya

302

Nil

94

Nil

396

Gaza

220

9

133

Nil

362

Deir El-Balah

194

12

48

Nil

254

Khan Yunis

195

6

66

Nil

267

Rafah

251

3

26

Nil

280

Total

1,162

30

367

Nil

1,559

 

Nevertheless, many of these laborers from the Gaza Strip were not able to reach their work places due to the siege imposed by the Israeli occupation forces.  On Wednesday, March 28, 2001, only 10 laborers were able to reach their work places.  On April 8 and 15, 2001, 262 and 744 laborers were able to go to their work.  PCHR’s field officer in the northern Gaza Strip reported that laborers had to undergo strict searches by Israeli occupation soldiers at Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing.

 It is worth mentioning that approximately 24,000 organized Palestinian laborers and approximately 48,000 non-organized laborers had worked in Israel before the outbreak of Al-Aqsa Intifada.  In September 2000, the Israeli occupation forces permitted the access of 5,600 laborers to their work places in Israel under the following conditions:

  •   A laborer must be over 37 years of age,

  •   A laborer must have clean security record, and

  •   The employer must request his laborer.

 

Although a small number of Palestinian laborers were offered permits, an even smaller number of them were able to reach their work places due to arbitrary security measures used by the Israeli occupation forces.  The laborers had to undergo strict search procedures at military roadblocks.

 In addition, on Tuesday, April 17, 2001, the Israeli occupation forces closed Erez industrial zone after they had already allowed 3,122 Palestinian laborers working in sewing, metalworks and other fields access to the area.

 Furthermore, thousands of Palestinian laborers working inside the Gaza Strip were not able to reach their work places, so many factories and workshops were closed.  Many factories and workshops also dismissed their laborers after work and exports were halted.  In this context, according to a report by the Palestinian Union of Timber Industry, approximately 3,330 out of 5,000 laborers working in in 600 companies were dismissed.  Their total annual incomes are estimated at US$ 120 million.

 It is worth mentioning that the Palestinian economy largely depends on the income of laborers.  The average daily income of a laborer is US$ 27.50.  Thus, the total daily loss of organized labor in Israel is approximately US$ 660,000.  If the losses of non-organized laborers, of those working at Erez industrial zone and of laborers working in local factories and workshops is summed, then the total daily losses of Palestinian labor will be approximately US$ 3.5 million.

 

 

4.     Continued Restrictions on Freedom of Movement

 

         1)      Restrictions on Freedom of Movement Inside the Gaza Strip

 The Israeli occupation forces have continued to close Salah El-Din Street (the main road between the north and south of the Gaza Strip) and all alternative roads.  So, it has become easy for the Israeli occupation forces to divide the Gaza Strip into three isolated areas: the southern area (Rafah and Khan Yunis), the middle area, and Gaza City and the northern area.  Under these conditions, more than 1 million Palestinians live in three internment areas of sorts.  Palestinians lack the freedom of movement, and they share a fear of travelling after dark.  School children fear going to their schools, especially those located at demarcation lines or those which require crossing military roadblocks, such as Al-Tuffah, Tal Al-Sultan, Al-Shuhada’ and Kfar Darom roadblocks.  Additionally, farmers in several areas have not been able to reach their farms to cultivate their crops.  As a result, much of the crops have rotted.

 Furthermore, Palestinian employees from the southern Gaza Strip complain of Israeli measures used at military roadblocks which obstruct their travel to Gaza City.  Traveling between Rafah and Gaza City takes more than two hours, so those employees arrive at their work places late.  This has negative impacts on social, educational and medical services offered to citizens by these institutions.  UNRWA personnel have not been immune to these measures.  UNRWA had already obtained permission by the Israeli occupation forces to allow free movement for its personnel.  However, on Thursday, April 19, 2001, Israeli occupation soldiers, positioned at Al-Shuhada’ (Netzarim) junction, south of Gaza City, obstructed the passage of Peter Hansen, the UNRWA Operational Director, for two hours.  Hansen was on his way to Rafah to survey the destruction of Palestinian houses by the Israeli occupation forces.

 On Tuesday, April 17, 2001, the Israeli occupation forces tightened the internal siege on the Gaza Strip when they closed all main roads between the north and south of the Gaza Strip.  Palestinians were forced to walk along the seashore under fire in order to travel to Gaza City.   

 

         2)      Continued Closure of Gaza International Airport and Re-closure of  Rafah Border Crossing

 The Israeli occupation forces have maintained the closure of Gaza International Airport since Tuesday, February 13, 2001. 

 On March 24 and 25, 2001, approximately 1,150 Palestinian travelers were able to travel outside the Gaza Strip through Rafah Border Crossing.  Those travelers had not been able to travel since February 5, 2001 when the Israeli occupation forces closed the crossing.  On March 26 and 27, 2001, only 10 travelers, who either had residence permits in Arab and foreign countries or visitor permits to the Gaza Strip.   

 On Thursday, April 5, 2001, the Israeli occupation forces claimed that it facilitated travel procedures at the crossing.  Accordingly, the number of travelers increased to 300 a day, and the number of Palestinian personnel at the crossing increased from 9 to 36.

 On Monday, April 16, 2001, the Israeli occupation forces closed the crossing from 08:00 local time, claiming that Palestinian policemen were heavily deployed at the gate.

 On Tuesday, April 17, 2001, at approximately 08:00 local time, Israeli occupation soldiers at the gate of the crossing denied the entry of Palestinian personnel through the crossing.  They stated later that the crossing was closed after a decision was taken by the office of the Israeli Prime Minister. 

 On Wednesday, April 18, 2001, the Israeli occupation forces only allowed returnees to the Gaza Strip to travel through the crossing.

 On Monday, April 23, 2001, the Israeli occupation forces prevented a number of Palestinian senior national personalities from traveling through Rafah Border Crossing to join an international conference to support Al-Aqsa Intifada held in Iran.  Among these personalities were members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Zakaraia Al-Agha, Ibrahim Abu Al-Naja, Jamal Zaqqout, Kamal Shrafi and Jamila Seidam.

 Also on Monday, April 23, 2001, the Israeli occupation forces arrested ‘Adnan Al-Hajjar while he was on his way back from Egypt to the Gaza Strip through Rafah Border Crossing.  The Israeli forces claimed that he was a member of Ussama Ben Laden’s organization.  Al-Hajjar, a lawyer at Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, had participated in a course on legal decision-making.

 On Tuesday, April 24, 2001, the Israeli occupation forces re-opened Rafah Border Crossing for travelers to Egypt, but they re-closed it on the following day, marking the occasion of the so-called “Israeli Independence Day.”

 

         3)      Restrictions on the Entry of Fuel into the Southern Gaza Strip

 Since Ariel Sharon assumed power in Israel, the denial of the entry of fuel trucks into the northern Gaza Strip has emerged as a means of collective punishment.  Sharon has threatened to tighten the siege on areas of “violence” against the Israeli occupation forces.

 Before Sharon assumed power in Israel, 250,000 liters of diesel, 60,000 liters of petrol and 60 tons of domestic gas, entered the southern Gaza Strip daily.  These amounts decreased by 30% after Sharon’s election, causing a shortage of fuel in the southern Gaza Strip.

 Approximately a month ago, the passage of fuel trucks into the southern Gaza Strip was coordinated between the Israeli occupation forces and the Palestinian Authority.  Israeli soldiers allowed the passage of Palestinian fuel trucks, provided that they had permits under which the amount of fuel, the name of the driver and the number of the truck were specified.  However, this procedure depends largely on the situation on the ground and on the whim of the Israeli military southern commander.  PCHR was informed that the fuel crisis in the southern Gaza Strip was not apparent, but it was expected to deteriorate.

 

         4)      A Continued Siege on Al-Mawasi Area in Khan Yunis and Rafah

 Since the beginning of October 2000, the Israeli occupation forces have imposed a siege on Al-Mawasi area, under their control, in Khan Yunis and Rafah.  Palestinian farmers have been prevented from transporting their agricultural products from Al-Mawasi area to the two cities and from driving cars and agricultural equipment into their area since February 8, 2001.

 Furthermore, the Israeli forces deployed armored vehicles into the area to patrol it and closed main roads.  Since February 14, 2001, Palestinian fishermen have been prevented from entering the sea beyond 120m.

 Residents of Al-Mawasi area were denied their rights to free movement and education.  They were also prevented from bringing foodstuffs into the area.  In addition, they were terrified and provoked, and some were arrested by the Israeli forces.

 

5.      Further Deterioration of the Medical Conditions

 Under the current total siege, which includes closing main roads and border crossings, the medical conditions in the Gaza Strip have deteriorated.  On Tuesday, April 3, 2001, the Israeli occupation forces denied the entry of a delegation of the Red Crescent Society in United Arab Emirates for no apparent reason.  All efforts to allow their entry failed.  The Israeli occupation forces also denied the landing of a Belgian plane loaded with medicines and medical equipment at Gaza International Airport.  Additionally, they denied the entry of approximately 300 tons of medicines and medical equipment and six ambulances into the Occupied Palestinian Territories through Al-Karama Border Crossing.  This assistance was offered to the Palestinian people after a decision was made by the Arab Summit held in Amman in March.[2]

 On Sunday, April 7, 2001, Israeli occupation forces positioned at Abu Houli roadblock near “Kfar Darom” settlement in Deir El-Balah, fired at members of a medical delegation of the German Hammer Form while they were on their way to Martyr Mohammed Yousef Al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah.  The car in which the delegation traveled was loaded with oxygen for the hospital.  The Israeli occupation forces denied the access of the delegation to Rafah.

 On Tuesday, Aril 17, 2001, a 10-year-old child Bara’ Jalal Mahmoud El-Sha’er, from Rafah, was wounded by the Israeli occupation forces with a medium caliber bullet in the head, from which he died later on the same day.  When he was wounded, the child was evacuated to Martyr Mohammed Yousef Al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, from which he was transferred to Shifa’ Hospital in Gaza City since he was in serious condition.  However, his transfer to Shifa’ Hospital took more than one hour due to the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.  His transfer was coordinated between the Palestinian side and the Israeli occupation forces.

 

6.     A Continued Military Marine Siege

 Access by Palestinian fishermen to the Mediterranean Sea has been limited to 3 miles away from the shore as opposed to the 20-mile distance to which fishermen were allowed to venture into the sea before the Intifada.  This distance is insufficient for fishermen to move freely during fishing season in the Gaza Strip during the months of April and May.  If Israeli measures against fishermen continue for much longer, Palestinian fishermen may join the thousands of Palestinian families living on humanitarian assistance.

 It is worth mentioning that hundreds of Palestinian families from Al-Shati refugee camp, Deir El-Balah and Al-Mawasi areas earn their living from the fishing industry.  Israeli forces chase fishermen who exceed the limits allowed for fishing, attack them and confiscate their nets and boats.  On the other hand, according to Palestinian fishermen from Al-Shati refugee camp, the Israeli occupation forces allowed Israeli fishermen to fish in the sea of the Gaza Strip.

 The Israeli occupation forces also kidnapped a number of Palestinian fishermen only dozens of meters away form the seashore.  On Sunday, April 15, 2001, the Israeli forces arrested two fishermen of Abu Riala family and moved them to an undisclosed location.  According to Palestinian fishermen, on Monday, April 24, 2001, the Israeli occupation forces sprinkled hot water and fired sound bombs at them and used bright light to disperse fish.

 

7.      Denial of the Right to Education

 The Israeli occupation forces continued to violate the right to education under the current siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.  Military roadblocks of the Israeli occupation forces posed dangerous threats to the security and safety of Palestinian university students. Approximately 50% of university students and 60% of university employees are from the southern Gaza Strip, while most universities are in Gaza City.  Those students were often unable to reach their universities under such conditions.  Israeli measures also coincided with midterm exams at universities.

 On the other hand, Gazan students studying at universities in the West Bank have been deprived of the right to visit their families in the Strip. 

 

8.     Denial of the Right to Free Access to the Holy Sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem

 Sunday, April 15, 2001 was the time of Easter.  To celebrate this occasion, Palestinian Christians go to Jerusalem and Bethlehem for religious ceremonies, but this year, this was not possible due to the total siege imposed on the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  Thousands of Christians throughout the world were allowed access to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, but Palestinian Christians were denied this right.

 In addition, Palestinian residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been deprived of praying at Al-Haram Al-Sharif (the Holy Sanctuary).

 

9.     Continued prevention of visitation of Palestinian prisoners

 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have been deprived of visits from their families since September 29, 2000, as a consequence of the total siege imposed on the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  Lawyers from the Gaza Strip have not been able to visit Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. This has a negative psychological effect on the prisoners that is exacerbated by the hard and inhuman conditions of detention.

 It is worth mentioning that the number of prisoners in Israeli jails is approximately 2,250, 300 of whom are from the Gaza Strip, 1,625 of whom are from the West Bank and Jerusalem, 300 of whom are from Palestinian areas inside the Green Line, and 25 of whom are Arab prisoners.

 On February 11, 2001, the Israeli occupation forces established a program for visitation of prisoners, under which visits would take place bimonthly and under specific conditions and timetables.  According to ICRC, in the last two visits, the Israeli occupation forces prevented 200 members of prisoners’ families in the last two visits from visiting their relatives in Israeli jails. 

 Tuesday, April 17, 2001 marked the Palestinian Prisoners’ Day.  Families of the prisoners and national institutions held sit-ins near headquarters of the ICRC in the Gaza Strip, calling upon the international community to pressure the Israeli government to release Palestinian prisoners, or at least allow their visitation by their families and lawyers and improve detention conditions.

 On Wednesday, April 18, 2001, Israeli occupation forces, positioned at Al-Shuhada’ junction, south of Gaza City, denied 20 families of prisoners passage from Rafah and Khan Yunis to Nafaha Prison, in spite of prior coordination between the ICRC and the Israeli occupation authorities.

 

10.     Denial of the entry of newspaperss into the Gaza Strip

 On Tuesday, April 17, 2001, the Israeli occupation forces denied the entry of daily local newspapers into the Gaza Strip, but on the following day, they allowed the entry of Al-Quds and Al-Hayat Al-Jadida. 

 On Wednesday, April 25, 2001, the Israeli occupation forces denied the entry of local newspapers into the Gaza Strip on the occasion of the so-called Israeli “Independence Day.”

 

Conclusion

 The Israeli occupation forces have continued to impose a total siege on the occupied Palestinian territories.  Under the siege, the suffering of the Palestinian people continues.  The Gaza Strip has been transformed into three isolated collective jails.  Living conditions in the occupied Palestinian territories have deteriorated on all levels.

 The policy of collective punishment adopted by the Israeli occupation forces against the Palestinian people is internationally prohibited, and it contradicts international human rights standards and international humanitarian law.

 PCHR calls for a lift of the total siege imposed on the occupied Palestinian territories and for an end to the policy of economic pressure adopted by the Israeli occupation forces against the Palestinian people.

 

PCHR further calls for:  

 

    (One) Pressure on Israel to lift the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, and to stop its aggression against the Palestinian people and their property.

   (Two)Provision of immediate medical and humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people, whose living conditions have been increasingly deteriorating under the siege.

 (Three) Activating mechanisms of immediate intervention by the UN and its agencies, and ICRC, to ensure the access of medical and food assistance to the occupied Palestinian territories under the siege.

   (Four)Obligating Israel to respect international conventions and to comply with the UN Resolutions, especially 242 and 338, which call for a complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories up to pre-1967 borders.

    (Five) Effective measures by the EU, under Article 2 of the Euro-Israel Association Agreement, which provides that Israel must respect human rights.

 

“End”

 

Annex (1)

 

A table that shows closures of crossings since Al-Aqsa Intifada

 

The Crossing

Closure

Partial Reopening

Al-Mentar (Karni)

Closed on September 29, 2000

Re-closed on October 8, 2000

Re-closed on November 14, 2000

Re-closed on January 1, 2001

Re-closed in the morning of January 14, 2001

Re-closed on January 15, 2001

Reopened on October 2, 2000

Reopened on October 10, 2000

Reopened on November 19, 2000

Partially reopened January 7, 2001

Partially reopened in the evening of January 14, 2001

Partially reopened on January 17, 2001

Sofa

Closed on October 8, 2000

 Re-closed on January 18, 2001

 

Re-closed on February 15, 2001

Reopened on January 17, 2001

Reopened for laborers only on February 12, 2001

Reopened on March 16, 2001

Beit Hanoun (Erez)

Closed on October 8, 2000 – now

 

 

Re-closed on January 1, 2001

 

Re-closed on February 4, 2001

 

Re-closed on February 15, 2001

 

Re-closed on April 17, 2001

Partially reopened on December 14, 2000, allowing the entry of a limited number of Palestinian laborers

Partially reopened for laborers on January 22, 2001

Partially reopened for laborers on February 7, 2001

Partially reopened for laborers on March 27, 2001

Rafah Border Crossing

Closed on October 8, 2000

 

Re-closed on October 12, 2000

Re-closed on October 16, 2000

Re-closed on November 8, 2000

 

 

Re-closed on December 11, 2000, from 10:00 to 12:00 local time

Re-closed on December 18, 2000

Re-closed on December 30, 2000

Re-closed on January 14, 2001

Re-closed on January 24, 2001

Re-closed on January 31, 2001

Re-closed on February 5, 2001

 

 

 

Re-closed on March 18, 2001

Re-closed on April 25, 2001

Reopened on October 10, 2000, with reduced staff

Reopened on October 15, 2000

Reopened on October 19, 2000

Partially reopened on November 20, 2000, and was re-closed on the same day

Partially reopened on December 4, 2000

 

 

Reopened on December 19, 2000

Reopened on January 11, 2001

Reopened on January 17, 2001

Partially reopened on January 25, 2001

Reopened on February 1, 2001

Reopened only for pilgrims on February 13, 2001

Reopened for returnees on February 20, 2001

Partially reopened on March 24, 2001

Gaza International Airport

Closed on October 8, 2000

Re-closed on October 29, 2000

Re-closed on November 8, 2000

Re-closed on January 1, 2001

Re-closed on January 15, 2001

Re-closed on January 31, 2001

Re-closed on February 5, 2001

 

Re-closed on February 14, 2001

Reopened on October 15, 2000

Reopened on November 6, 2000

Partially reopened on December 1, 2000

Partially reopened on January 12, 2001

Partially reopened on January 18, 2001

Reopened on February 1, 2001

Reopened only for pilgrims on February 13, 2001

 


 

“1) All people have the right of self determination.  By virtue of this right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. 

“2) All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law.  In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.”

Article 1, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1996)

 

“No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.”

Article 17, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)

 

“1) Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence.

“2) Everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own.”

Article 12, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)

 

“No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed.  Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.  Pillage is prohibited.  Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.”

Article 33, the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (1949)

 

“Each High Contracting Party shall allow the free passage of all consignments of medical and hospital stores and objects necessary for religious worship intended only for civilians of another High Contracting Party, even if the latter is its adversary.  It shall likewise permit the free passage of all consignments of essential foodstuffs, clothing and tonics intended for children under fifteen, expectant mothers and maternity cases.”

Article 23, the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (1949)

 

“1) The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of every one to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right.”

Article 6, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)

 

“1) The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

“2) The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include: …

d- the creation of conditions which could assure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness.”

Article 12, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)

 

“1) The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to education.  They agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.”   

Article 13, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)

 

   


 


[1] For more information, see Closure Update No. 34.

[2] For more details, see PCHR’s report on Israeli violations against Palestinian medical personnel between September 29, 2000 and April 11, 2001.