August 2013: Movement of people and goods to and from Gaza on the backdrop of turmoil in Egypt, Infographics


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In July, with the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi and instability in Egypt and particularly in the Sinai, Egypt's policy toward the Gaza Strip changed dramatically. Travel through the Egypt-Gaza border crossing, Rafah, and the movement of goods through the tunnels were restricted. This trend continued throughout August, and travel via Rafah dropped by 72% compared to the monthly average during the first half of 2013. Egyptian security forces continued shutting down tunnels in the border area, and recent reports indicate that only a few tunnels remained active in September.

Given that Israel prevents all sea and air access to and from the Gaza Strip and restricts movement through its own border crossings with the Strip, Gaza residents have come to rely on Rafah as a connection to the outside world. Israel has responded to the crisis at Rafah – in August, there was a 24% increase in the number of entries of Palestinians into Israel via the Erez crossing, compared to the monthly average during the first half of 2013. However, this represents just 1,000 entries – only approximately 6.5% of the total decrease in exits via Rafah during the same month.

As the infographics show, the number of entries of Palestinians into Israel via Erez dropped slightly in August compared to July. The amount of goods entering the Gaza Strip via Kerem Shalom also dropped in August compared to July. The decrease in the quantity of goods is due to the fact that in July, merchants ordered more goods for the month of Ramadan and to compensate for the closure of the tunnels during that month. In August, Gaza markets remained saturated with basic goods.

Because of Israel's significant control over the Gaza Strip, it has an obligation under the law of occupation, to allow Gaza residents to lead normal lives, including the ability to enter and exit the Strip. So long as travel through Rafah is not possible, Israel has an obligation to allow Gaza's residents to exercise their right to freedom of movement through other crossings.