Update: Construction materials transferred from Israel to Gaza’s private sector, Rafah Crossing closed until further notice, significant drop in entrance of fuel via tunnels

September 24, 2013

Construction materials. Beginning on Sunday, 70 truckloads of construction materials, destined for the private sector, have entered Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing each day. The total comprises of 40 truckloads of gravel, 20 truckloads of cement and 10 truckloads of iron. From mid-2007, Israel prevented the transfer of construction materials to Gaza's private sector. At the end of 2012, the security establishment began allowing 20 truckloads of gravel, destined for the private sector, to enter the Strip per day.

The increase in the quantity of construction materials entering the Strip has led the price of these materials to drop between 20-36 per cent. Meanwhile, the quantity of construction materials being transferred via the tunnels was limited – possibly as a result of the changes at Kerem Shalom. During the first half of 2013, an average of 190 truckloads of construction materials were transferred to the Strip each day through the tunnels – a quantity 2.7 times greater than that which Israel permitted to enter.   

Rafah Crossing. Rafah was closed on Friday, and will remain closed until further notice. On Wednesday and Thursday the crossing was open to allow passage for medical patients, students studying abroad and humanitarian cases. During these two days, 889 individuals left Gaza and 769 entered the Strip. Prior to Rafah's opening on Wednesday, it was reported that some 5,000 individuals, who meet criteria for travel via Rafah and are registered at Gaza's Ministry of Interior, were waiting in Gaza to travel.

Gisha has confirmed that about 100 students left for studies abroad on Thursday. We do not currently have figures for how many students were able to travel on Wednesday. Last week, students from Gaza, who are unable to travel to their studies, held protests at the crossing. It has been reported that around 800 students from Gaza are currently unable to reach their studies because of the closure of Rafah. Following a request from students, Palestinian human rights organization, Al Mezan, submitted an appeal to Egyptian authorities, as well as to local and international organizations for Rafah to be opened to students seeking to travel.  

Fuel. As a result of heightened Egyptian military presence in northern Sinai, near the tunnels that cross between Egypt and Gaza, tunnel activity continues to be unstable. According to estimates, the amount of fuel transferred via the tunnels over recent days is less than half of that which was transferred per day during the first half of 2013 (800,000 liters per day). Fuel entering via the tunnels is currently being transferred to Gaza's power plant and not to the private sector.