Due to restrictions at Rafah: Erez Crossing Becomes Main Gateway to the Gaza Strip

• Due to the restrictions Egypt imposed on travel through Rafah Crossing, more Palestinians are now traveling to and from Gaza via Erez Crossing than Rafah.
• The meaning: Thousands of people needing to travel from Gaza are stuck in the Strip.
• Gisha: Israel’s restrictive policy must be reconsidered.

 

Sunday, October 20, 2013: Travel limitations at the Rafah border crossing have brought an interesting turnaround: Erez Crossing has now become the main gateway into and out of the Gaza Strip, although no significant change in Israel’s restrictive policy has taken place. The restrictions imposed by Egypt on travel through Rafah have led to a sharp decline in the number of individuals exiting via Egypt: from an average of more than 20,000 exits a month during the first half of the year to only 3,412 in September.Meanwhile, almost  5,000  exits by Palestinians were recorded at Erez Crossing during the month of September, reflecting a 20% increase from the 4,150 monthly average in the first half of 2013. More Palestinians traveled through Erez than through Rafah in August as well, although the difference was only about 200 people.

A look at the numbers reveals that close to 16,000 people who would have traveled out of Gaza every month on average now remain in the Strip without being able to leave. Students, professionals who work outside the Gaza Strip and many others have been stripped of their basic right to travel.

Israel does not allow travel to and from the Gaza Strip by sea or air and limits passage through Erez Crossing to “exceptional humanitarian cases”. The result has been dependency on Rafah Crossing. Gisha argues that Israel’s control over Gaza creates obligations under the law of occupation, which applies to Israel but not to Egypt.

“Israel’s restrictive travel policy must be reconsidered”, said Adv. Sari Bashi, executive director of Gisha. “Because Israel exercises control over the Gaza Strip, it has a responsibility to allow regular travel. When travel through Rafah Crossing is insufficient, Israel must allow a more significant increase in travel through its crossings”.

For details: Sari Bashi, Gisha Director, or Amir Rotem, Gisha spokesperson, amir@gisha.org

For a statement on Gisha’s position regarding Israel’s and Egypt’s obligations on Gaza travel, click here.