On Wednesday, March 3, 2021, Gabi Ben Harush, Director of the Israel Road Transport Board, and Tania Hary, Gisha Executive Director, called on the Minister of Defense and the Head of the National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing in Israel to immediately suspend their decision (Hebrew) to step up enforcement measures on truck drivers and freight companies that transport dual-use items to the Gaza Strip via Kerem Shalom Crossing. According to the decision, truck drivers are liable for ensuring that all goods in their cargo have the proper permits required by Israel.
All goods needed by Gaza’s two million residents and not produced locally are purchased outside the Strip, mainly from Israel. This includes basic commodities, industrial inputs, medical equipment, processed foods, fruit, mechanical parts, fuel, construction materials, and more. For years, these goods have largely entered Gaza through one gateway: Kerem Shalom Crossing. Israel restricts the entry of goods it considers to be “dual-use” items. All goods that appear on Israel’s long and vague “dual-use” list require a special permit to be brought into Gaza.
The letter opposes the decision to strengthen enforcement measures against freight companies and truck drivers, which is likely to create a chilling effect. There is concern that truck drivers in Israel will opt out of transporting goods to Kerem Shalom altogether, even if they are presented with the required permits for the goods in their cargo, due to fears that their trucks could be seized and confiscated at the crossing, generating high costs for their release.
In the letter, Ben Harush and Hary noted that, “every day, hundreds of Israeli trucks travel to Kerem Shalom Crossing. Normal economic activity in Gaza depends on the crossing’s routine operation and entry of goods. The requirements arising from your decision dated February 21, 2021, could result not only in harm to shipping companies’ viability and to drivers’ livelihoods, but may also curtail the supply of goods to the Gaza Strip, since, from now on, truck drivers will be forced to treat any cargo they transport to Kerem Shalom as suspicious and potentially financially risky. In so doing, the decision could fundamentally harm not only Gaza traders but also the Strip’s entire population.”
To read the full letter, translated to English, click here.