Gisha: Gaza closure failed, ceasefire is chance for change

Ceasefire creates opportunity for fundamental change that can achieve security and prosperity for Palestinian and Israeli civilians:

Wed., Aug. 27, 2014: In a new position paper released today, Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement argues that the policy of closing Gaza has wreaked havoc on civilian life for Palestinians while failing to achieve its stated goal of providing security for Israelis. Gisha offers a new way forward.

The closure of Gaza prevented residents of Gaza from leading normal lives. It blocked the kind of stability and prosperity that would have benefited residents of Gaza and Israel. Israel should adopt a policy consistent with the requirements of international law and the recommendations of senior Israeli officials: to distinguish between civilians and combatants and to cancel all restrictions on civilian movement, especially to allow economic development. The ceasefire creates an opportunity for fundamental change that will facilitate respect for basic rights and prosperity and security for Palestinians and Israelis.

Gisha calls on the government of Israel to expand travel to and from Gaza to the maximum possible:

  1. To allow travel via Erez Crossing, subject to individual security screenings.
  • The failure of the closure policy and the political deadlock it created helped bring about the last round of violence and are likely to do so again, if changes aren’t made.
  • Travel for people is needed to rehabilitate the Palestinian economy and allow it to flourish. It is critical for ensuring family life and access to professional and personal opportunities for Gaza residents.
  • Beyond just immediate humanitarian assistance, Gaza needs economic development that will facilitate stability in the region. Even senior Israeli security experts agree that allowing a “humanitarian minimum” is insufficient.
  • Prior to June 2007, more than 85% of outgoing goods from Gaza were being sold in Israel and the West Bank. Without access to these primary and profitable markets, the economy in Gaza cannot recover.
  • Civilians in Gaza must be able to access necessities as basic as construction materials. It is estimated that Gaza’s immediate reconstruction needs stand at 3.5 million tons of construction materials.
  • Israel should find appropriate solutions to protect against offensive tunnels from Gaza, and it has the right to take reasonable measures to protect its security. But the sweeping ban on selling construction materials to Gaza is disproportionate. It did not prevent the digging of tunnels; it caused human and economic devastation in Gaza.
  • The existing mechanism for approving construction materials for international organizations is woefully inadequate. It has allowed just 27,000 tons of construction materials per month to enter Gaza. At that rate, it would take decades to rebuild.
  1. To allow Gaza residents to transfer goods to markets in the West Bank and Israel, subject to individual security checks and security arrangements at the crossings.
  1. To allow construction materials to enter Gaza, subject to an appropriate security procedure.

To read Gisha’s new position paper, “Turning a New Page“, click here.

For more details: Sari Bashi, Gisha Co-founder, or sari@gisha.org.