June 2007-June 2010: The Gaza Strip border crossings are closed; Restrictions on the passage of goods and people
The closure of the Gaza Strip applies to a coastal strip 360 km² in area (139 mi²).
Gaza is just over twice the size of Washington, DC. Gaza is about the same size as Seattle and Philadelphia and one-third the size of New York City. Israel is 22,072 km² – Gaza could fit into Israel more than 61 times!
Israel allows in only items defined as basic products “essential to the survival of the civilian population”.
• The number of types of items Israel allows into the Gaza Strip: 114. Before the closure: more than 4000 individual items.
A large Israeli supermarket carries 10,000-15,000 items.
• Among the items whose passage Israel forbids: vinegar, children’s toys, cocoa, chewing gum, paper and musical instruments.
• Truckloads of goods entering Gaza: an average of around 2,300 per month. Before the closure: 10,400 per month (truckloads now entering Gaza thus equals about 25% of pre-closure total).
30,000 trucks enter Manhattan each day (population of almost 1.6 million people).
• Israel prevents the transfer of raw materials for industry as part of its “economic warfare” policy designed to prevent economic activity in Gaza as a means of pressure: it forbids the transfer to Gaza of large blocks of margarine intended for industrial usage yet allows in small packages of margarine for household consumption; it bans the transfer of rubber, glue and nylon which are used in the production of diapers in the Strip, yet allows the transfer of diapers produced in Israel; and it prevents the transfer of industrial salt, glucose and plastic containers used to produce tahini paste but allows in Israeli-made tahini paste. According to estimates by the Palestinian Federation of Industries, more than 90% of Gaza’s factories belonging to the Federation are closed or working at minimum capacity.
• Export: since the closure (June 2007-today): 259 trucks have left Gaza; before the closure: an average of 70 trucks per day left Gaza (2005). In three years, Israel has permitted exports totaling less than what used to be exported in four days.
The Israeli food company Tnuva sends out 400 trucks per day from its factory to destinations all over Israel.
• Cooking gas: an average of 2,500 tons per month transferred to Gaza. The demand: 6,000 tons per month.
• Unemployment: 33.9% in the first quarter of 2010.
• Actual participation in the workforce: 36.3% (304,900 people). 65% of the population live below the poverty line.
• Supported by international aid organizations: 80% of the population.
Israel allows the passage of people into and out of Gaza only “in humanitarian and exceptional cases”.
• The Rafah Crossing: closed since June 2007 except for occasional and limited openings that meet 8% of the needs of the residents of the Gaza Strip. In 2010 thus far, an average of 3,192 people passed through the crossing monthly. Before the closure: an average of about 40,000 people traveled through the crossing.
An average of 910,000 people transit through Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport each month. An average of 125,000 people cross through the Allenby Bridge Crossing (between Israel and Jordan) every month.
Not humanitarian according to Israel: A visit by a woman living in the West Bank to her husband in the Gaza Strip; children visiting their father in the Gaza Strip; a son from Gaza visiting his dying mother in Jordan (“family ties in themselves do not constitute sufficient humanitarian justification for travel”); students going to study in the West Bank and abroad; travel by merchants for the purposes of trade; travel for training and more.
• Untreated or partially treated sewage dumped into the sea: 80 million liters per day.
• More than 90% of water is polluted (its origin is the Gaza Strip aquifer).
• 660 schools; 453,258 students; an average of 38 students per classroom; two shifts of school per day.
• In 2009, 38,317 students graduated and were supposed to be absorbed by the labor market.
Construction and Rehabilitation
• 86,000 housing units need to be constructed to meet the needs of the population (due both to natural growth and the destruction caused by the war).
• 3,956,000 tons of cement are needed.
• 653,600 tons of steel are needed.
• 129 million meters of electric cables are needed.
• Building materials whose transfer Israel prevents: cement, gravel, iron, marble, wood.