Exits of Palestinians to Israel and the West Bank via Erez Crossing
Erez Crossing is the only land crossing for the movement of people between the Gaza Strip and Israel and the West Bank, as well as third countries when Rafah Crossing is closed. Currently, Israel permits Palestinian residents to travel via Erez in “exceptional humanitarian cases, with an emphasis on urgent medical cases”, and in practice also allows travel of traders and other exceptional cases like students traveling abroad or Palestinian national athletic teams. Following Operation Protective Edge, the average number of exits of Palestinian through Erez increased, however the numbers are still just a fraction of the half million exits by laborers recorded at Erez every month in 2000. The number of exits of Palestinians through Erez Crossing dropped during 2016, compared to 2015. The average recorded in 2016 was 12,150 exits each month compared to 14,276 in 2015.
Gaza residents’ ability to travel to Israel was gradually limited over the years. Since 1991, Gaza residents have been required to obtain exit permits, and the number of permits given gradually declined. In 1993, a general closure was declared on the Palestinian territory; it was enforced in Gaza especially starting in 1995, when an electronic fence and concrete wall were built around the Strip. When the Second Intifada broke out in September 2000, Israel canceled many existing exit permits and reduced the number of new permits it issued. Additionally, Erez Crossing shut down more frequently. In the first year of the intifada, the crossing was closed to Palestinians 72% of the time. The restrictions led to a drop of tens of percentage points in the number of Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip who were able to travel to and through Israel daily, from more than 26,000 in the summer of 2000, on the eve of the intifada, to less than 900 after it broke out later that year. On March 12, 2006, ahead of the Purim holiday, Israel declared a closure of the Palestinian territory and prevented the entrance of laborers from the Gaza Strip to Israel; since then, they have not been allowed in again. After Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip, Israel imposed a full closure on the Strip and allowed Palestinians to exit according to a narrow list of criteria, mostly “exceptional humanitarian cases”. Though Israel has changed the criteria over the years, travel from Gaza to Israel and the West Bank remains extremely limited, and beyond the reach of most Palestinians.
Last update: March 2017.