Since Tuesday (August 2), Israel has restricted access on roads leading to Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings in the south of Israel and blocked all movement of people and goods to and from the Gaza Strip. Patients are being prevented from reaching treatment, other humanitarian cases are blocked, there is a risk of a further reduction in electricity supply to residents of the Strip. These are the repercussions of Israel’s closure of Erez and Kerem Shalom Crossings.
Normally, an average of 100-120 exits are recorded at Erez per day by patients in need of critical treatment unavailable in Gaza and their companions. Since Tuesday, only a handful of patients were allowed out in ambulances. Prolonged closure at Erez puts people’s lives at risk.
There are some 14,000 people holding trader or financial needs permits who normally travel via Erez for their livelihoods. For the past three days, no one has been allowed out, at a loss of millions of shekels per day for workers, their families, and for Gaza’s economy as a whole.
In addition to the hundreds of people who are now unable to access life-saving treatments outside of Gaza, other humanitarian cases who had already received permits to cross via Erez, whether to visit a dying loved one or attend the funeral of a first degree relative, are also being blocked from exiting.
Blocking movement of goods has severe implications for everyday life in Gaza. The closure of Kerem Shalom, Gaza’s main commercial crossing, is blocking entry of goods, including food, medicine and fuel for Gaza’s power plant. If this continues, the plant will reduce production, leading to longer than normal power cuts on some of the hottest days of the year.
The closure of Kerem Shalom is also preventing exit of goods, at loss of millions of shekels for Gaza’s beleaguered private sector, farmers, and traders. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, 15-20 truckloads of agricultural produce were blocked from exiting Gaza on Tuesday (August 2). The few traders who were able to sell the produce that had been blocked in the Strip did so without profit.
A trader from Gaza who was forced to put ten truckloads of fruit in storage in Israel, costing tens of thousands of shekels per day, told Gisha: “The decision [to close Kerem Shalom] is arbitrary and leaves you in a state of uncertainty. No one knows when the crossing will open, yet everything depends on it.”
For more information, see the statement we published together with Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, here.