Disruptions at Gaza’s crossings

Rafah crossing. Photo by: Gisha

Rafah crossing. Photo by: Gisha

March 27, 2018. Operations at Erez Crossing to Israel and Rafah Crossing to Egypt were disrupted over the course of last week, further limiting movement to and from Gaza, which is severely restricted to begin with.

On March 22, Hamas security forces returned to the “4:4 checkpoint” near Erez Crossing in the northern Gaza Strip and prevented people from reaching the crossing, except medical cases and foreigners. The Hamas checkpoint had previously stopped operating when responsibilities for the crossings were ostensibly handed over to the Palestinian Authority on November 1, as part of the reconciliation process between the two Palestinian factions. The de facto Hamas authorities “re-staffed” the checkpoint on March 22 in the context of the investigation into the apparent assassination attempt on Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Al Hamdallah, on March 13. Yesterday morning, the restrictions at the checkpoint were lifted and movement of people through Erez, already severely restricted by Israel, proceeded.

To the south of the Strip, traders from Gaza held a protest strike on March 22 at Gaza’s commercial crossing, Kerem Shalom, and blocked the entry of trucks destined for Gaza from Israel. The protest was sparked by an apparent Palestinian Authority directive which delayed the entrance of approximately 50 truckloads from Egypt via Salah a-Din gate, resulting in damage to truckloads of produce. Eventually the goods were allowed to pass via Salah a-Din, and Kerem Shalom opened as usual on Sunday morning.

Rafah Crossing to Egypt opened last Friday, March 23, for travel out of Gaza, and about 690 people exited the Strip. According to Gisha’s sources, the travelers were delayed at the Egyptian side of the crossing until Monday due to the security situation in the Sinai, at which time 890 people also entered Gaza from Egypt. The crossing is now closed again.

We recall the obligation of all parties to respect residents’ right to freedom of movement.