January 31, 2016. Everything that the 1.8 million residents of the Gaza Strip need and which is not produced there – basic commodities, raw materials for manufacturing, medical equipment, processed food, fruit, spare parts, temporary shelters, fuel, construction materials and much more – is purchased and brought in, for the most part from Israel. All these goods enter through a single crossing, the Kerem Shalom crossing, over which Israel has exclusive control. Israel oversees the security arrangements and infrastructure by which the crossing operates and importantly, determines what is allowed to be transported through it in both directions.
Israel currently allows all goods to enter Gaza, with the exception of a list of items that it defines as “dual-use” and which require special permission to enter. The designation as “dual-use” means that Israel acknowledges these items have an inherent civilian use, but it claims they can also be used for military purposes. Of course, Israel is not the only country to define dual-use items. In 1996, a large group of countries signed the Wassenaar Arrangement, designed to regulate the export of conventional weapons and dual-use materials and technologies. Israel is not party to the arrangement, but the items listed in it are included on Israel’s list as well. A separate list for Gaza includes a wide array of additional items, including basic construction materials, cranes, heavy equipment, and even x-ray machines and smoke detectors.
Gisha has previously called attention to the far-reaching effects of the restrictions on bringing construction materials into the Gaza Strip, but the scope of the dual-use list affects every aspect of life in the Gaza Strip. The shortage in cranes and heavy equipment impacts emergency readiness and the cost and pace of construction, incoming shipments of medical equipment are periodically delayed and the entry of pipes, required for construction and rudimentary water and sewage infrastructure, is restricted. Despite these difficulties, over the past few months, the restrictions have been further tightened and Israel officially added 13 new items to the list, including wood planks exceeding certain dimensions, smoke detectors and uninterrupted power supply (UPS) components. The restrictions on wood have led to a near collapse of Gaza’s furniture industry, and the restrictions on UPS components make it difficult to protect electronic devices in an area that is plagued by daily power cuts.
All of this is compounded by a complicated, non-transparent coordination process that places obstacles in the way of well-established international organizations, not to mention private companies or residents. This information sheet presents initial research into the dual-use item list, Israel’s system for approving items, and a first stab at answers to some important questions raised by this system.
To read the full information sheet click here.
UPDATE: In response to Freedom of Information application submitted by Gisha received in March 2016, COGAT claimed that “The Procedure for Bringing Controlled Goods into the Gaza Strip”, which was drafted and published by COGAT in 2010, after the flotilla incident, is no longer in effect. According to COGAT, the most current list of dual-use goods and the procedure for filing applications for special permits to bring these goods into Gaza are established only in Israeli law and in the orders and regulations issued pursuant to it. The law in question is the Defense Export Control Law from 2007, which generally addresses export permits for military related goods and the Defense Export Control Order 2008 (Controlled Dual-Use Goods Transferred to Areas under Palestinian Civilian Control 5769-2008) (Hebrew). This means COGAT in fact confirms that it has no administrative directives or guidelines detailing its powers to prevent the entry of what is referred to as dual-use goods into Gaza.
For more information on COGAT’s response and its implications, click here.