On October 14, Gisha sent an urgent letter (Hebrew) to Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, demanding he retract his decision to stop the transfer of fuel from Israel to the Gaza Strip.
In the letter, Gisha addressed the minister, stating: “On October 13, 2018, the media reported your decision to halt fuel and gas supplies to the Gaza Strip until further notice. The reports were based on a message in your Twitter account to the effect that: ‘fuel and gas supplies to Gaza will not be renewed until the violence in the Strip stops completely, including launching of incendiary balloons and burning tires across from Israeli communities.’ Media reports indicate that this decision was made despite the objection of senior security officials who warned against further deterioration of humanitarian conditions in Gaza.”
The letter further notes that the decision defies international law, the rulings of Israel’s Supreme Court, and the state’s previous commitments, and constitutes collective punishment. “Fuel and gas are essential humanitarian provisions and barring their entry into Gaza harms a population which is already contending with dire living conditions,” the letter says.
The letter goes on to say: “The current decision to deny the transfer of fuel and gas is not predicated on any need, nor does it serve security purposes…The first to be impacted will be the beneficiaries of humanitarian organizations relying on fuel purchased with international funding.”
On October 17, based on Gisha’s statement, Meretz sent the minister of defense a letter urging him to reconsider his directive to close the crossings and highlighting the humanitarian necessity of their uninterrupted operations.
On Sunday, October 21, Erez and Kerem Shalom Crossings reopened for travel and movement of goods according to the restrictive criteria Israel has been imposing for many years. On the other hand, Qatari-funded fuel designated for the power plant was held up for an additional three days, until Wednesday, October 24. The fishing zone, which had been reduced to three nautical miles, was also extended. Restrictions implemented to punish the population for acts they did not commit and which are beyond their control counter the absolute prohibition on collective punishment.