The Gaza Cheat Sheet

About the Gaza Cheat Sheet

The Gaza Strip is a topic of great interest and debate in Israel and abroad and it is not always easy to find answers to the most basic questions about it. On this page we attempt to collect concise and up-to-date answers to some of the questions that we are asked frequently: What is the situation in the Gaza Strip? What are the restrictions currently imposed on the movement of people and goods into and out of the Strip? What is Gisha’s position on the subject? The Gaza Cheat Sheet is updated regularly.

Last update:  November 5, 2014

Economic situation in Gaza

More than 70% of the population relies on humanitarian aid • On the eve of Operation Protection Edge, 57% of the population suffered from food insecurity • The unemployment rate was 45% in the second quarter of 2014 (compared to 18.7% in 2000) • 27 government schools in Gaza were heavily damaged or destroyed during the fighting this summer • Even before the military operation, the Strip was short over 200 schools, including 150 government schools • Classes are taught in two and sometimes three shifts • The Gaza Strip is short more than 100,000 housing units; 20,000 housing units were severely damaged or destroyed during the recent hostilities.

Access policy

Entrance of goods into Gaza: Kerem Shalom, connecting Gaza to Israel, is the only official crossing open for the transfer of goods into and out of the Strip • Israel allows entrance of civilian goods into Gaza, except for a list of materials that it defines as “dual-use”, whose entry into Gaza is limited • On September 2, basic building materials (cement, gravel and steel) were again allowed to enter for international aid organizations and the Palestinian Water Authority • A new mechanism that is meant to allow flows of materials for use by the private sector is beginning to be implemented these very days, yet the pace of entrance of materials is just a fraction of need • Since June 30, construction materials have also not entered through the Rafah crossing • Previously, they entered in small quantities for projects funded by the Qatari government.

Exit of goods from Gaza: In recent weeks, attempts have been made to coordinate the transfer of agricultural produce from Gaza to the West Bank • The ban on sale of goods from Gaza to the West Bank and Israel, in effect since June 2007, remains in place • Since March 2012, in an exception to the rule, 56 truckloads of goods have exited Gaza for the West Bank and Israel: 49 truckloads of date bars for a World Food Programme project and 4 truckloads of school desks and chairs ordered by the Palestinian Authority to the West Bank plus 3 truckloads of palm fronds to Israel • Export had not been allowed out of Gaza starting June 10 and was renewed only on September 15 with the exit of five truckloads of sweet potatoes to Europe • During the months January – September 2014, an average of 10 truckloads of goods exited Gaza each month, or less than 1% of what exited monthly prior to 2007.

Travel between Gaza and the West Bank: The only crossings through which people are permitted to travel to and from the Gaza Strip are Erez (to Israel) and Rafah (to Egypt) • Until Operation Protective Edge, Israel allowed passage through Erez only “in exceptional humanitarian cases, with an emphasis on urgent medical cases” in addition to some merchants • After the cessation of hostilities, Israel changed some of the criteria for travel from Gaza, but these remain very narrow.

Travel from Gaza to the outside world: Such travel takes place mostly through Egypt • During the first half of 2013, approximately 40,000 people transited at Rafah in both directions • Starting in July 2013, Egypt began limiting passage to exceptional cases only, following instability in the country, as well as limiting the days of operation of the crossing • During the first half of this year, the number of crossings per month fell to about 6,445 or 16% of the total of the corresponding period in 2013 • In August, following the cessation of hostilities, the number of exits and entrances through the Rafah crossing again rose to 12,149 and to 19,991 in the month of September • Through its control of the Palestinian population registry, Israel has indirect control over the issuing of Palestinian passports, which are required for travel through Rafah.

Access to the Gaza Strip’s land, territorial waters and air space: Israel prevents all access to and from the Gaza Strip by sea and air • For the fifth time since Operation Pillar of Defense and following the end of Operation Protective Edge, on August 27, the fishing zone was changed again, expanding to six nautical miles from the coast and the “buffer zone” along the border was reduced to 100 meters.

Gisha’s position

By virtue of Israel’s substantial control of the Gaza Strip, international law requires Israel to facilitate normal life in the Strip, including by allowing access for civilians and civilian goods. Alongside this obligation, Israel has the authority to decide by which routes both people and goods enter and leave Gaza and to establish reasonable and proportionate security measures to prevent the transfer of weapons and other military activity. Accordingly, Gisha’s position is that Israel must lift the sweeping restrictions that remain and allow entrance of construction materials, sale of goods to the West Bank and Israel and travel of people between Gaza and the West Bank, subject to individual security inspections. Since Egypt has begun to reduce the flow of people through the Rafah crossing, Gaza residents have no almost no possibility of leaving Gaza . Israel has a responsibility to allow regular movement of people and goods between Gaza and the West Bank, which continue to share a single economy, a single education system, a single healthcare system and countless familial, cultural and social ties.

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