Gisha sends complaint to COGAT following publication of reports that list empty containers among the goods exported from Gaza
In the weekly and monthly reports posted on the COGAT website, the list of exported goods includes "boxes" or "empty boxes". So, for example, in the April 2013 COGAT report, along with 5 truckloads of "flowers" and 3 truckloads of "spices", there were no less than 72 trucks loaded with "empty boxes". From our understanding, these boxes are empty containers that are shipped back to Israel after the goods imported into the Gaza Strip are unloaded from them. By counting these empty containers, COGAT artificially increases the amount of goods that exit Gaza while maintaining restrictions which limit sale of goods outside the Strip.
Israel currently allows almost all goods to enter the Gaza Strip. However, the ban on sale of goods to Israel and the West Bank, which has been in place since the closure was imposed in 2007, has greatly reduced the amount of goods which exit Gaza. As a result, trucks enter the Gaza Strip carrying containers filled with goods, and, after unloading these goods, leave the Gaza Strip with the empty containers.
The letter, addressed to the COGAT public liaison officer, compares the figures provided in COGAT reports to figures Gisha obtained from the United Nations Special Coordinator Office (UNSCO), the Palestinian Ministry of Economics and the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee. The letter emphasizes that including empty containers in the list of goods leaving the Gaza Strip distorts the truth and does not serve the goal for transparency, which is the reason for publishing the reports in the first place. Gisha requested that COGAT correct its reporting practices immediately.
To read the letter (Hebrew)