Kerem Shalom operations grounded
March 18, 2016. Over the last two weeks, Gisha received testimonies from Israeli commercial truck drivers complaining about excessive enforcement of traffic violations by police on the road leading to Kerem Shalom Crossing, the only commercial crossing into Gaza. On Tuesday of last week, the drivers began a strike and parked hundreds of trucks at the entrance to the crossing to protest the actions of the traffic police in the area. The protest continued into Wednesday, preventing hundreds of tons of fruit and vegetable from entering Gaza, along with other goods needed by Gaza’s 1.8 million residents. Fuel and construction materials entered Gaza as usual.
Palestinian merchants told Gisha that shortages of dairy products and fruit began to be felt as a result of the strike. A Palestinian vegetable supplier said that the strike also prevented shipments of Gaza produce to the West Bank and Israel, and two truckloads of lemons and oranges destined for Jordan.
Other incidents also interfered with the operation of the crossing early last week: On Sunday and Monday, there were complaints on the Palestinian side of the crossing that Israel delayed the loading of goods destined for Gaza markets, which had been unloaded on the Israeli side. The goods were finally cleared for loading only at 2:00 PM. According to a report in Haaretz, the move was a punitive measure on the part of the Ministry of Defense in response to observation posts allegedly set up near the crossing on the Palestinian side by Hamas. The ministry rejected the allegation and said that it was merely due to “adjustments in the operation of the crossing”. Due to the Israel truck driver’s strike starting Tuesday, it was unclear by the time of this update whether the situation had been resolved.
Given its control over Gaza’s only cargo crossing with the rest of the world, Israel has an obligation to ensure proper, consistent movement of goods into and out of Gaza. Paralyzing activity at the crossing interferes not only with supply of essential and humanitarian goods going into Gaza, but also runs counter to Israel’s self-stated economic and security interests.