Over the past 12 months, Israeli authorities sent Palestinian Authority officials in Gaza two lists containing about 100 medical and communications items or equipment that no longer require “special coordination” with the Israeli ministries of health and communications, respectively, in order to be brought into the Strip.
For years, Israel has restricted the entry of construction materials, chemicals, machinery, and spare parts into Gaza that are needed for industry and agriculture, the health sector, and civilian infrastructure. Israel considers thousands of items to be “dual-use,” that is, civilian goods that could also be used for a military purpose. The list of items Israel defines as “dual-use” for purposes of entry into the Gaza Strip and the West Bank far exceeds the internationally accepted standard and contains vague, broad categories such as “communications equipment” or “vehicles.” The section of the list pertaining to Gaza is particularly long.
Items that the Israeli authorities consider dual-use are not banned outright from entering the Strip, but bringing them into Gaza entails “special coordination,” or in other words, an even more complicated coordination process than is needed to bring in ordinary goods (as in, non-dual-use items) via Kerem Shalom Crossing. In practice, despite the fact that many items are needed to ensure the proper functioning of civilian infrastructure in Gaza, Israeli authorities are often extremely slow to answer applications for “special coordination,” sometimes failing to respond altogether.
On January 2, 2023, the Presidential Committee for Commodities Coordination (PCCC), which sits under the Palestinian Authority’s General Administration for Borders and Crossings, announced (Arabic) that Israel had declared that 50 medical items would no longer require special coordination for entry to Gaza, including incubators, thermometers, defibrillators, ventilators, glucometers, and electric wheelchairs.
At the same time, hundreds of medical items necessary for the operation of the health care system are still classified by Israel as dual-use, requiring special coordination to be brought into the Strip. According to media reports, on January 9, a convoy of dozens of ambulances staged a protest on the Palestinian side of Erez Crossing against Israel’s ongoing restrictions on the entry of medical equipment into Gaza.
To view the list of medical equipment exempted from Israel’s requirement for special coordination, click here.
On March 28, 2022, the PCCC announced (Arabic) that Israel had notified them of 56 types of communications equipment that would no longer require special coordination, including scanners, computer monitors, computer mouses, projectors, chargers, cellular phone screen protectors, headphones, and selfie sticks.
To view the list of excluded communication equipment, click here.
Further changes to Israel’s policy on the entry of “dual-use” items into Gaza
On January 28, 2022, the PCCC posted (Arabic) that Israel had determined that white cement would no longer need special coordination for entry and similarly regarding steel sheets in February 2022.
In December 2022, a United Nations-supervised boatyard designed to enable repair of fishing boats was opened in Gaza. Israel subsequently enabled the entry of a shipment of fiberglass for the repair of about ten fishing vessels that had been put out of commission due to the unavailability of necessary materials. Hundreds of decommissioned boats still await repair in the Strip. In January 2023, reports indicated that some 12 boat engines, also considered dual-use by Israel, entered Gaza, destined to the supervised boatyard.
The restrictions Israel enforces on entry of goods into Gaza impact countless aspects of everyday life in the Strip, impair basic civilian infrastructure, hinder industry, and undermine vital services provided by the local healthcare system. A review of the items Israel has exempted from special coordination reveals just how far-reaching, arbitrary, and unwarranted these restrictions were in the first place. It is difficult to understand why items such as computer mouses or thermometers required special coordination until now. Far from sufficient after so many years of blocked access, these developments only reflect the depth of continued control over life in Gaza, which Israel continues to wield without accepting any responsibility for the harm its policies inflict.
As the occupying power, not only is Israel legally obligated to refrain from restricting or delaying the entry of goods required to ensure normal life for Gaza’s residents, it must actively guarantee the continuous and uninterrupted supply of all that is required for normal life.