Blackouts approximately 15 hours per day for 400,000 people, Kerem Shalom closed

Erez Crossing. Photo: Karl Schembri

July 17, 2014. On average, around Gaza, electricity blackouts are reaching up to 12 hours per day. In central Gaza and Khan Younis, cuts lasting approximately 15 hours per day are being felt by around 400,000 individuals due to chronic shortages of electricity as well as damage to two high tension lines that transfer electricity from Israel to Gaza.

Kerem Shalom Crossing, the only commercial crossing to Gaza, was supposed to open for two hours today for entrance of goods, between 1–3 pm, but did not open.

Israel continues to restrict transit at Erez to medical patients and their companions and foreign citizens. The crossing had been mostly closed on the Palestinian side of the crossing since Monday, July 14, by Hamas authorities, though yesterday transit was allowed for some medical patients and for foreigners between the hours 12–2pm. Today there were no restrictions on passage from the Palestinian side of the crossing.

Rafah Crossing was opened today for transit of casualties of the military operation and holders of foreign residency and citizenship, as well as return of Palestinians from Egypt.

July 16, 2014. Hamas authorities have kept the Palestinian side of Erez Crossing mostly closed since Monday, claiming that while at the crossing, employees may be endangered by ongoing hostilities. Passage for medical patients and their companions and foreign citizens, including humanitarian actors, has been impeded as a result. Some medical patients and companions have been allowed to travel, while restrictions on foreign citizens remain.

Israel began further restricting passage at Erez starting June 13th. Over the past month, merchants have been able to travel on a few occasions, however passage has been mainly restricted to medical patients and their companions as well as foreign citizens, including humanitarian actors and journalists.

Kerem Shalom has operated in a restricted format for transfer of food, fuel and medicine since July 6, while export has been entirely blocked.

International law allows for restrictions on civilian movement in the case of a concrete security need and requires the parties to allow passage for humanitarian aid. Civilians are not a legitimate target and must be protected during hostilities. Gisha calls on both parties to make maximum efforts to ensure access for goods and people, subject to individual security checks, and to refrain to the greatest extent possible from obstructing passage necessary for humanitarian action and assistance.

Rafah Crossing was opened today for transit of casualties of the military operation and holders of foreign residency and citizenship, as well as return of Palestinians from Egypt. Since July 10, 2,085 individuals have transited from Gaza to Egypt. Most of them were pilgrims and among them were also 20 Palestinians injured in the course of hostilities.

Movement of goods still restricted. Photo: Eman Mohammed

July 15, 2014. Kerem Shalom operated today in a restricted format for transfer of food, fuel and medicine, as it has since July 6. Today, approximately 150 truckloads of goods were expected to have entered the Strip.

The Palestinian side of Erez Crossing was closed this morning. We were not able to confirm the reason for this. The Palestinian side of the crossing re-opened beginning around 11:30 am and Israel allowed transit today of medical patients and their companions.

Rafah Crossing was opened today for transit of casualties of the military operation and holders of foreign residency and citizenship, as well as return of Palestinians from Egypt.

July 14, 2014. Erez Crossing continues to operate according to a restricted format, as it has since June 13.  Only medical patients and their companions and foreign citizens can transit. While travel of merchants had been allowed intermittently during this period, it has been blocked since July 8.

Rafah Crossing was opened yesterday and today for transit of pilgrims, casualties of the military operation and holders of foreign residency and citizenship, as well as return of Palestinians from Egypt.

July 13, 2014. This was the seventh consecutive day that Israel imposed restrictions on the types of goods that can enter Gaza through Kerem Shalom Crossing, the Strip’s only commercial crossing. Only medicine, food items, and fuel were permitted to enter. One hundred fifty truckloads were expected to have crossed today. The crossing operated fewer hours than usual, until around 2pm.

The week of July 6-10, on the backdrop of the military operation, 761 truckloads of goods entered Gaza (including fuel) compared to 1,402 truckloads (including fuel) the week prior, a drop of nearly 50%.

Erez Crossing continued to operate according to a “restricted format”, as it has since June 13, for exit of medical patients, foreign citizens and Palestinian residents of Gaza with foreign citizenship.

Rafah Crossing was opened today, and is expected to open tomorrow and Tuesday, for transit of pilgrims and return of Palestinians from Egypt. On Friday, though the crossing was meant to open, it remained closed.

Caption: Banned from entering. A clothing retailer in Gaza. Photo: Eman Mohammed.

Caption: Banned from entering. A clothing retailer in Gaza. Photo: Eman Mohammed.

July 10, 2014. This is the fifth consecutive day that Israel has imposed restrictions on the types of goods that can enter Gaza through Kerem Shalom Crossing, the Strip’s only commercial crossing. Only medicine, food items, fruit, vegetables and fuel are being permitted to enter. One hundred eighty truckloads were expected to cross today. The crossing operated fewer hours than usual, from 9am – 2pm.

Erez Crossing continued to operate according to a “limited format”, as it has since June 13, until 3:30pm for exit of medical patients and foreign citizens. No merchants are being permitted to exit the Strip. The crossing is expected to operate until 7pm for entrance of individuals who are returning home to Gaza. These are standard hours of operation for the crossing. We understand that coordination is being undertaken for exit of Palestinian residents of Gaza with foreign citizenship and will continue to update with more information as it becomes available.

Rafah Crossing was opened at 9am this morning for transit of casualties to Egyptian hospitals and also for exit of foreign nationals.

July 9, 2014. This is the fourth consecutive day that Israel has imposed restrictions on the types of goods that can enter Gaza through Kerem Shalom Crossing, the Strip’s only commercial crossing. Only medicine, food items, fruit, vegetables and fuel are being permitted to enter. Export has also been completely prohibited and has not taken place since June 9. One hundred seventy two truckloads of goods were expected to enter Gaza today compared to a daily average of 225 truckloads in June, a drop of 24%.

In addition, Israeli officials notified the Palestinian Fuel Authority that Kerem Shalom would only operate from 10am – 2pm for entrance of fuel due to the security situation. Today, 38,000 liters of diesel entered Gaza destined for the private sector, compared with 340,000 liters which entered yesterday. Diesel is used for ambulances and other service vehicles as well as for running generators. Also today, 250,000 liters of industrial diesel entered Gaza for the power plant, compared with 430,000 liters which entered yesterday. Four truckloads of cooking gas entered today, compared to 10 yesterday.

Erez Crossing continued to operate according to a “limited format”, as it has since June 13. Only medical patients and foreign citizens are being allowed to travel from Gaza. No merchants have been permitted to exit the Strip for the past few days.

Rafah Crossing, between Gaza and Egypt, also remained closed today, as it has been since last Wednesday.

July 8, 2014. This is the third consecutive day that Israel has imposed restrictions on the types of goods that can enter Gaza through Kerem Shalom Crossing, the Strip’s only commercial crossing. Only medicine, food items, fruit, vegetables and fuel are being permitted to enter.

Last month, goods such as clothes, shoes, wood, aluminum, cardboard boxes, paper, kitchen supplies and electronics passed through Kerem Shalom on any given day, but over the past three days, the types of items allowed to enter have been restricted. On Sunday, 349 truckloads of goods had been ordered and were expected to transit, while permission was granted for only 170 truckloads due to the limitations on what could enter. Yesterday only 140-150 were estimated to have entered Gaza. Due to the new restrictions, Palestinian importers ordered only the goods that were permitted to enter. Export has also been completely prohibited and has not taken place since June 9.

The Israeli military and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories have not yet responded to our request for information about the new restrictions on entry of commercial goods.

Meanwhile, Erez Crossing has operated according to a “limited format” since June 13. Only medical patients and foreign citizens are being allowed to travel from Gaza. Today merchants were prohibited from exiting the Strip, though some had been allowed to transit as of June 25.

Rafah Crossing, between Gaza and Egypt, has been closed since last Wednesday.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Defense ordered to reduce the fishing zone along Gaza’s coast from six to three nautical miles. This is the fourth time since Operation Pillar of Defense that the Defense Ministry has changed the fishing zone, which has been six nautical miles since May 21, 2013.

Israel is currently engaged in a military operation in Gaza and over the past few weeks rockets have been fired with increasing frequency from Gaza towards Israel. International law requires both parties to the conflict actively take precautions to prevent harm to the civilian population and it strictly prohibits intentionally inflicting harm on them.