Naturally, Israel exercises complete control over the crossings between it and the Gaza Strip. Since June 2007, it has closed three of the four commercial crossings: Karni, which was Gaza’s commercial life line, through which all trucks exited and most trucks entered; Sufa, through which construction materials were brought into the Gaza Strip; and Nahal Oz, through which fuel and cooking gas were transported. The crossings that remain open are Kerem Shalom, which is designated for the passage of goods and located inside Israel (near the three-way meeting point of Israel, Gaza and Egypt); and Erez, which is designated for passage by people and may be used by Palestinian residents only in “humanitarian cases, with an emphasis on urgent medical cases”1. In practice, as of July 2010, Israel permits approximately 3,000 exits by Palestinians through Erez each month, mostly by patients and accompanying family members, and, since 2011, merchants as well.
Through its control over the passage of commercial goods, Israel has a tremendous impact on life in the Gaza Strip, a small and densely populated area which relies on trade with the outside world for obtaining basic products and maintaining a productive economy. When Israel decides to allow the export of flowers, strawberries and peppers but not ice cream, cookies or soft drinks2, it essentially determines which of Gaza’s industries will function. When Israel requires an international organization to change the location of a new school as a condition for allowing into Gaza the materials required for building it3, it influences planning and zoning policy inside the Gaza Strip.
- Section 15 of the State’s response in H.C. 4906/10 Sharif v. Defense Ministry (hereinafter: State’s response in Sharif). [↩]
- Security Cabinet Resolution, 32nd Government, Dec. 8, 2010; see also IDF Spokesperson, Pepper Export from Gaza Strip Begins [in Hebrew] (Jan. 23, 2011). [↩]
- Thus, for example, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories required UNRWA to shift the location of a school it was planning to build by a few hundred meters, as the original location was allegedly near a building used by Hamas (Yaakov Katz, Israel Reviewing UNRWA List of Sites for Gaza Schools, The Jerusalem Post [Dec. 15, 2010]). [↩]