As the flotilla approaches, Gisha warns: Gaza residents don’t need more aid, they need to export and travel

· 83% of Gaza’s factories are closed or working at 50% or less capacity

· Israel forbids export from Gaza: not a single truck allowed since May

Wed., June 29, 2011 – As the flotilla approaches, Gisha warns that the focus on humanitarian aid by both flotilla organizers and the Israeli government is infuriating and misleading. There is no shortage of food in Gaza, but economic recovery is blocked by sweeping restrictions on the movement of goods and people. The continued ban on export, construction materials, and travel between Gaza and the West Bank contradicts the 2010 Israeli government decision to facilitate economic recovery in Gaza.

At least 83% of Gaza’s factories are either closed or working at a capacity of 50% or less, according to the Palestinian Federation of Industries. The manufacturing sector cannot recover under the present Israeli ban on export; not a single truck has been allowed to leave Gaza since May 12. Even during the winter agricultural season, when Israel allowed the export of agricultural produce, the quantities were economically negligible: an average of two trucks per day, compared to the 400 trucks a day agreed upon in the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access.

Israel has banned completely goods destined for Israel and the West Bank, even though prior to 2007, 85% of the goods leaving Gaza were sold to Israel and the West Bank.

Sari Bashi, Executive Director of Gisha, says it is infuriating that residents of Gaza are being deliberately reduced to recipients of humanitarian aid. "The problem in Gaza is not a shortage of food but rather a violation of the right to productive, dignified work. There is just one solution that will respect the rights of Gaza residents to freedom of movement and livelihood while protecting Israel’s legitimate security interests: Israel must lift the ban on construction materials, exit of goods and travel between Gaza and the West Bank".

According to Mohammed Tilbani, owner of a sweets factory in Gaza: "The market for my goods in the West Bank is blocked, because of the restrictions on export, and local consumption is limited, because of the high unemployment. A factory that cannot sell its goods outside of Gaza is a factory that cannot prosper".