Gisha: Gaza movement restrictions harm civilians, not militants

As demands are raised to lift restrictions on movement into and out of Gaza, Gisha offers the following statement and information:

At least since June 2007, Israel has restricted movement of persons and goods into and out of Gaza to a “humanitarian minimum” – enough for Palestinians in Gaza to receive donations of food and essential items, but not enough for them to engage in the kind of economic activity that would foster prosperity, stability and growth. It is a mistake to think that closing Gaza’s civilian crossings weakens militants or contributes to stability – for Israelis or Palestinians. The real victims of the closure of Gaza are students trying to reach their studies, factory workers losing their jobs, and businesswomen and men preventing from contributing to economic development. Removing the movement restrictions is not a concession to militants – it is an obligation Israel has to the civilian population in Gaza, and fulfilling it would enhance stability and security for everyone in the region.

Here is a look at the state of the closure of Gaza:

  • Travel via Erez Crossing, needed to enter Israel and the West Bank, is limited to “exceptional humanitarian cases”, mostly medical patients and their companions, senior male merchants and family visits under urgent humanitarian circumstances. Travel through Erez is less than 1% of what it was in September 2000. Since June 13 travel is mostly limited to medical patients.
  • Since June 2007, Israel has banned transferring goods to Israel and the West Bank, where more than 85% of Gaza’s markets once were. A small amount of export to foreign countries, mostly subsidized, is permitted. Gaza residents are exporting less than 2% of pre-2007 levels.
  • Since October 2013, Israel has banned construction material from entering via the Kerem Shalom crossing, with limited exceptions for international humanitarian projects, crippling a sector once responsible for 70,000 jobs. As a result, unemployment in Gaza has soared to 41%, and it is 58% among young people. Infrastructure and reconstruction projects, all the more vital in light of the current destruction, are halted due to shortages of materials.
  • Israel does not allow residents of Gaza to operate a seaport or airport. The underground tunnel trade for civilian goods from Egypt has been mostly halted since last summer’s regime change. Also since last summer, travel via the Rafah Crossing with Egypt is just 16% of what it was prior to the regime change in Egypt. Rafah has been mostly closed during the latest escalation.
  • On July 6, the Israeli Ministry of Defense reduced the fishing zone along Gaza’s coast from six to three nautical miles. This is the fourth time since Operation Pillar of Defense (November 2012) that the Defense Ministry has changed the fishing zone. 

To read Gisha’s Gaza Cheat Sheet, click here. 

For ongoing updates on Gaza’s crossings during the current escalation, click here.