Israel built the Karni Crossing following the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1994 for the transfer of goods between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Until mid-2007, hundreds of trucks traveled through Karni daily and it served as the main crossing for goods into and out of the Gaza Strip. To this day, it is considered the most suitable crossing for the transfer of goods to and from the Gaza Strip as it has the capacity to facilitate the transfer of 800 truckloads of goods per day in both directions. It also includes 34 cells for the transfer of all kinds of merchandise and it is equipped with advanced security inspection equipment. Karni is also close to Gaza City, where most of the industry and consumer markets of the Gaza Strip are located, and it is closer than the other crossings to Ashdod Port and the West Bank.
The Agreement on Movement and Access that Israel signed with the PA in 2005 set down the principles for the normal operation of the crossing and provided that Israel would allow 400 trucks to exit Karni every day through the end of 2006. In reality, from the beginning of 2005 until June 2007, Israel allowed several dozen trucks through the crossing per day. In June 2007, as part of measures Israel initiated to target Hamas, which took control of the Gaza Strip at that time, Karni Crossing was closed altogether, except for a conveyor belt (used mainly for the transfer of grain and animal feed) which was partially functional. In June 2010, Israel declared it would consider issuing permits for the transfer of building materials it defined as dual use (meaning they have both civilian and military purposes: gravel, steel and cement) for projects approved by the PA and supervised by international organizations in Gaza. Starting at that time, the conveyor belt was used frequently to transfer gravel into Gaza. At the beginning of March 2011, Israel halted the operation of the conveyor belt, closing the crossing entirely. Goods that formerly entered through the conveyor belt at Karni presently enter the Gaza Strip through a conveyor belt built at the Kerem Shalom Crossing in March 2011. Diverting traffic of all goods to the southern-most crossing increases transportation costs, and concerns have been raised that, as a result, prices of goods will also rise significantly.
For more on Karni Crossing:
To read the post “If they haven’t bread, let them eat gravel”, November 18, 2010, click here.
To read the Agreement on Movement and Access, November 2005, click here.
To read the report “Commercial Closure: Deleting Gaza’s Economy from the Map”, July 2007, click here.
To read the information sheet “Unraveling the closure of Gaza: what has and hasn’t changed since the Cabinet decision and what are the implications?”, July 2010, click here.