In response to Freedom of Information application: COGAT supplies figures on the movement of people and goods through the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings from May 2014 to January 2015, and information about international projects in Gaza
On February 19, 2015, Gisha submitted a Freedom of Information application to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) (Hebrew), asking for figures on the operation of the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings and on the movement of people and goods through them. The application also included a request for information about the supply of electricity and water to Gaza. The figures were requested for the period covering May 2014 to January 2015 (inclusive), as COGAT did not publish daily, weekly and monthly data regarding the movement of people and goods through the crossings in that period. Gisha also asked for information on the progress of international projects in Gaza during that time period.
Three months later, on May 20, 2015, the COGAT’s response (Hebrew) arrived. Almost all of the information we requested was provided. COGAT figures on travel through Erez crossing clearly reflect a significant drop in the number of people traveling over the summer months in 2014. Numbers began rising beginning in September of that year, and peaked in December. A similar trend was visible with respect to the movement of trucks and the entry of goods into Gaza over the nine-month period the data covered. The figures show that after Operation Protective Edge there was a slight increase in the number of trucks and the volume of goods allowed into the Gaza Strip, but in January 2015, numbers drop again (the full figures with breakdowns by various criteria are provided in the response).
COGAT’s figures also show that after Operation Protective Edge, some goods were shipped out of Gaza to Israel and the West Bank, though on a small scale, and that export abroad continued. According to the figures, beginning in November, furniture, spices, textile products and agricultural products were shipped to the West Bank and abroad and beginning in March 2015, agricultural products from Gaza were shipped to Israel.
With respect to the figures on the supply of water and electricity to the Gaza Strip, COGAT’s response notes that the unit is not responsible for this issue and therefore “does not have exact figures”. These, COGAT said, are available to the companies that sell water and electricity to the Gaza Strip, the Israel Electrical Company and Mekorot (Israel’s water company).
With respect to international projects in Gaza, COGAT confirmed that 134 internationally funded projects have been approved since October 2013, with a total cost of 350 million dollars US (specifics regarding the projects were provided in the response). COGAT did not state how many of them were approved after May 2014. This figure does not include the projects approved as part of the reconstruction mechanism established following Operation Protective Edge.
Gisha will continue to monitor figures on the movement of goods and people through Gaza’s crossings. Gisha laments the fact that COGAT no longer publishes these figures in real time on its website on its own initiative, and calls on the unit to resume updating the website so that it may serve as a relevant tool for the public, and obviate the need for Freedom of Information applications.