In a measure presented as a response to recent security incidents targeting Israeli citizens, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced on May 8 that Israel would extend the closure imposed at Erez Crossing over the Israeli Memorial and Independence days “until further notice.” As of today, Erez is still closed, with the exception of a small number of urgent medical cases, foreign journalists, foreign nationals and “humanitarian exceptions” as defined by Israel. In addition to some 12,000 traders and workers, examples of other people being blocked include the recently renewed family visits to Palestinian prisoners detained in Israel organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross, individuals needing access to consular services outside the Strip, and people visiting terminally ill family members.

The decision to close Gaza’s pedestrian crossing with Israel constitutes prohibited collective punishment and must be reversed immediately.  

In a press release from May 9, the head of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, Sami Al Amasi, estimated that the closing of Erez to some 10,000 Gaza residents who have “financial needs” permits to work in Israel leads to losses of 3 million ILS (~900,000 USD) per day. This is the second time in two weeks that Israel has prevented workers from exiting the Strip for work, in a place suffering from 45% unemployment and ever-increasing rates of poverty. 

Yesterday, May 10, Gisha sent an urgent letter to Israel’s Defense Minister, Attorney General, and COGAT to demand that they immediately reverse the illegal and wrongful decision to close Erez Crossing, a severe violation of Israel’s legal obligations towards Gaza’s civilian population that infringes on residents’ rights and obstructs normal life in the Strip. 

To read the letter (Hebrew), see here.