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 September 2016. The report emphasizes that Israeli closure imposed on the Gaza Strip has been intensified during the reporting period as the quantity of goods that were allowed to enter the Gaza Strip were unprecedentedly declined. The imports in September constitute 48.4% of the total imports in August (20,099 truckloads; an average of 648 truckloads daily). The quantity of imports was about 9,731 truckloads in average of 324 truckloads daily.
This report stresses that the severe restrictions imposed on the entry of about 400 types of goods to the Gaza Strip most of them are basic. As a result, dozens of basic goods declined during September, particularly the materials required for infrastructure projects, manufacturing and production such as the construction materials, all types of fuel, cooking gas, industrial machinery and production lines, iron pipes of all sizes, welding machines, melting rods, deferent kinds of wood, UPSs, X-ray devices, mounted-crane trucks and heavy equipment, different types of batteries and fertilizers.
During the reporting period, the Israeli authorities allowed the entry of very limited quantity of construction materials during September that do not meet the minimum needs of the Gaza Strip. They entered 78,747 tons of cement, 92,418 tons of construction steel and 192,133 tons of aggregates, constituting 5.1%, 1.8% and 9.8 respectively of the total construction materials needed for the Gaza Reconstruction according to the Ministry of National Economy in Gaza.
Concerning the exports, the Israeli authorities 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, 172 truckloads were allowed for exportation to the West Bank; most of which were agricultural products. The rate of the Gaza Strip exports in September constitutes 3.8 % of the exports before June 2007.
During the reporting period, the Israeli authorities prevented the entry of cooking gas for 13 days. During the days the crossing was open, the Israeli authorities allowed the entry of only 3,722 tons of cooking gas; a daily average of 124 tons. This amount represents 35.4% of the actual daily needs of the population, which is 350 tons according to General Petroleum Corporation in Gaza. It should be mentioned that the amount of imports for this month was 58.3% while 6,381 tons in August. As a result, people were forced to wait for a long time to fill half of a gas cylinder due to the shortage of cooking gas quantities.
As for the movement of persons, the Israeli authorities have imposed new restrictions on the residents of the Gaza Strip according to which they reduced the few numbers of the specific categories that were allowed to travel through Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing. Those restrictions affected the civilians’ movement as the rate of rejected permits for patients have risen. Israeli authorities, in August, prevented the travel of 965 patients (40.2%) of the total patient applications, but allowed 1,429 patients to travel (59.8%) of the total submitted applications. In September, the Israeli authorities allowed the travel of 1,217 patients and 1,150 companions to travel. This was considered as significant decrease compared with August.
According to the General Department of the Civil Affairs, Israel allowed the travel of 6,168 traders in September while 7,788 in August (20% decline); 961 persons with special needs in September while 1,373 in August (30% decline); 248 travelers via al-Karama (Allenby) crossing in September, while 330 in August (25% decline); 1,137 elderly persons to perform prayers in al-Aqsa mosque and 356 Arabs holding Israeli ID cards. It should be mentioned that these number do not represent the actual number of persons allowed to travel as the permit holders are far less than the passing times.
During the reporting period, Rafah International Crossing Point was closed during September for 20 days as a result of the Egyptian internal situation and the deteriorating security situation in north Sinai. The crossing was opened only for 10 days during which, 3,385 persons were allowed to travel, including 1,235 pilgrims, while 5,925 returned, including 2,761 pilgrims. The Egyptian authorities returned 257 persons, who were registered to travel. 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 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.