What is the closure of Gaza?

In light of reports that lifting the closure of Gaza is part of negotiations for a ceasefire, Gisha clarifies what the closure of Gaza (yes, "closure" and not "blockade") consists of today.

Since June 2010, changes in Israeli and Egyptian policies have made the Gaza Strip more open to the outside world, but the restrictions that sever it from the West Bank and Israel remain almost unchanged. These primarily include the ban on marketing goods from Gaza to Israel and the West Bank and restrictions on travel of people between Gaza and the West Bank. Both are explained as part of what Israel calls the "separation policy".

Transfer of goods into the Gaza Strip – The only crossing open for the transfer of goods into and out of the Gaza Strip, except for the tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border, is the Kerem Shalom crossing that connects Gaza with Israel. Israel allows the transfer of all kinds of goods except for materials it defines as dual use and basic construction materials.

Transfer of goods out of the Gaza Strip – Since June 2007, Israel has prevented Palestinians in Gaza from marketing their goods in Israel and the West Bank, where most of the demand is. The export of agricultural produce abroad is allowed in negligible quantities, mainly as part of a project subsidized by the Dutch government. Formally, the export of furniture and textile from Gaza abroad is allowed, but demand for these goods outside of Israel and the West Bank is minimal. Since the beginning of 2012, an average of 18 truckloads of goods were permitted to leave the Gaza Strip each month, which is just 2% of the level prior to June 2007.

Access to land, sea and air space of the Gaza Strip – Israel prevents all access to and from the Gaza Strip by sea and air. Gaza fishermen are allowed to fish up to three nautical miles from the coast. Israel prevents access to a 300-1500 meter "buffer zone" along the border fence.

Travel of people between Gaza and the West Bank – Movement of people into and out of the Gaza Strip takes place through the Erez crossing with Israel and the Rafah crossing with Egypt. Israel allows passage through Erez only in "exceptional humanitarian cases, with an emphasis on urgent medical cases". In practice, Israel has since the beginning of the year allowed about 4,000 entrances of Palestinians a month through Erez to Israel and the West Bank, mostly of senior merchants and patients and their companions, compared to more than half a million entrances in September 2000. Israel does not allow Palestinians from Gaza to enter the West Bank via Jordan, even though in doing so, they don't seek to travel through Israeli territory.

Travel of people between Gaza and other countries – Travel occurs mainly through Egypt, in light of Israel's ban on travel abroad via air, sea, and Israeli ports. The Rafah crossing is open to traffic six days per week. In the last four months, an average of 40,000 people passed through it each month in both directions – a volume of traffic similar to the level during implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access from November 2005 to June 2006. Because it controls the Palestinian population registry, Israeli exercises indirect control over issuing Palestinian passports, which are necessary for exit through Rafah Crossing.

For a datasheet summarizing the changes in the closure in the past five years, click here.