Ref: 33/2016

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) published a new report as part of the series of the monthly “Closure Reports” addressing the latest developments of the state of the Gaza Strip border crossings in August 2016. The report documents the impact of the ongoing Israel-imposed siege on Palestinian civilians, which affects their economic and social conditions. It also refutes Israel’s claims that it has eased the closure of the Gaza Strip for the ninth consecutive year. Furthermore, the report highlights that the continuing Israeli measures aim at the institutionalization of the closure and making the illegal restrictions imposed on the movement of persons and goods acceptable on the international level although they violate the international law, including the international humanitarian and human rights laws.

During the reporting period, the number of truckloads that were allowed to enter the Gaza Strip increased; however, most of these truckloads were agricultural and consumable as dozens of basic commodities are still banned.  Israeli forces allowed the entry of 20,099 truckloads, the majority of which were foodstuffs and consumables; an average of 648 truckloads daily. During the reporting period and according to a very limited and strict supervisory mechanism, the Israeli authorities allowed the entry of 77,214 tons of cement, 9,309 tons of construction steel and 296,760 tons of aggregate (5.1%, 1.8% and 9.8% of the total construction materials needed for the Gaza Reconstruction.)  Many obstacles were imposed on the entry of imports including the frequent closure of the only commercial crossing in the Gaza Strip, Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom); the crossing was closed for 8 days (30% of the total period).

Concerning the exports, Israeli forces continued to impose a ban on the Gaza Strip exports to the West Bank, Israel and abroad with the exception of limited quantities. During the reporting period, 115 truckloads were allowed for exportation to the West Bank; 61 truckloads of which were agricultural products, 4 truckloads of furniture, 4 truckloads of clothes, 42 truckloads of scrap, 2 truckloads of stationary and 2 truckloads of cattle skin. The rate of the Gaza Strip exports for August constitutes 2.5% of the exports before June 2007.

As for the movement of persons, the Gaza Strip population has been denied their right to the freedom of movement and has been suffering due to obstacles imposed on their movement at all border crossings that connect the Strip with the West Bank and Israel.

Moreover, during the reporting period, Israeli forces imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Gaza population at Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, the only crossing for the movement of persons to the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and/or Israel. As a result, 2 million people have been denied their right to the freedom of movement. A limited number of Palestinians were allowed to travel via the crossing: 1,321 patients, 1241 patient companions.

During the reporting period, Israeli forces, 7,788 traders, 1,373 people with special needs, 672 workers of international humanitarian organizations and 330 persons travelling via al-Karama crossing. It should be noted that these estimations do not emphasize the number of persons allowed to travel which is much less than times of travel. Those who have permits are allowed to travel more than one time a month. They also allowed 982 elderly people to cross Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing and perform prayers in al-Aqsa Mosque and 278 Arabs holding Israeli ID cards under complicated security measures and created obstacles in front of them for many days before allowing them to enter the Strip.

During the reporting period, Rafah International Crossing Point was closed during August for 28 days as a result of the Egyptian internal situation and the deteriorating security situation in North Sinai. The crossing was opened for 2 days only for Palestinian pilgrims; during which, 1,562 persons were allowed to leave the Gaza Strip while 23 pilgrims were returned. This unveiled the reality of the situation in the Gaza Strip under the policy of collective punishment and the Israeli closure imposed over all border crossings, especially Beit Hanoun crossing. The number of Palestinians, who registered for traveling via the crossing and are waiting for their turn to travel, was over 28,000, including 5,000 patients, in addition to thousands of Palestinians who want to travel but did not registered for traveling according to the Ministry of Interior in Gaza.

In the report’s recommendations, PCHR called upon the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, to immediately intervene to compel Israeli authorities to open the Gaza Strip crossings and put an end to the grave deterioration of humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.