The Erez crossing is located between Israel and Gaza on the northern border of the Strip. It serves mainly as a point of passage for people traveling between the Gaza Strip and Israel as well as those seeking to reach other destinations via Israel, such as the West Bank or third countries.
Erez Crossing today
Until January 1991, Israel allowed free passage from Erez in the framework of a general exit permit from the Palestinian Territory. Since that time, residents of the Gaza Strip have been required to obtain individual exit permits to Israel. In 1993, Israel declared a general closure of the Occupied Territory and in 1995 built an electric fence and concrete wall around the Gaza Strip. When the Second Intifada broke out in September 2000, the number of exit permits issued to residents of the Gaza Strip decreased and the Erez crossing was frequently closed.
As part of the implementation of the “disengagement” plan in 2005, Israel declared the Erez crossing an international border terminal, although the permits required to pass through it continued to be issued by military officials rather than the Ministry of Interior. Since March 2006, the entry of workers from Gaza into Israel has been forbidden and Israel’s policy is “not to permit entry of residents of the Gaza Strip except in extreme and exceptional humanitarian cases”. In the past year, the number of entries of Palestinians into Israel from Gaza through Erez has been approximately 4,000 per month; these are mostly patients, who travel with companions in order to receive treatment in Israeli and West Bank hospitals and merchants. In comparison, more than 26,000 Palestinian workers entered Israel via Erez every day in the summer of 2000, before the outbreak of the Intifada.
In May 2008, there was a public outcry in response to reports that Fulbright scholarship recipients from Gaza could not leave for their studies in the US because of the closure of Gaza. Since then, Israel has since allowed students to travel abroad through the Erez crossing, on the condition that they receive a scholarship recognized by Israel and as long as the diplomatic representation of the country where the student plans to study submits a request for an exit permit on the student’s behalf. The diplomatic representation must also be willing to provide the student with a diplomatic escort from the Erez crossing through Israel and the West Bank to the Allenby crossing to Jordan, from where the student can travel to his or her studies. Today many students prefer to leave the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. However, this route is not an option for students travelling to the United States, who are required to attend visa interviews at the US Consulate in Jerusalem.
For more information: