Gisha in urgent letter to Israeli Defense Minister, Attorney General and COGAT: Israel must open the crossings to Gaza and allow access to sea without further delay

Tuesday, May 7, 2019: Despite the ceasefire agreement that reportedly went into effect early yesterday morning, and the Israeli army’s decision to lift the protective measures it had put in place for Israeli civilians in southern Israel, today Israel continued to enforce a closure on Gaza’s crossings, Erez and Kerem Shalom, and deny access to the Strip’s territorial waters. Movement through Erez is currently limited to exit of foreign nationals, Israeli passport holders, and ambulances transferring medical patients in critical condition to receive treatment; entry to Gaza is limited to residents of the Strip. Kerem Shalom Crossing is closed other than for entry of fuel to Gaza.

According to an announcement by the army spokesperson to journalists this morning, as of yesterday at midnight, Israel imposed a general closure on the West Bank and on the crossings to Gaza. According to the statement, the crossings to Gaza will remain closed until the weekend, meaning they will only be opened on Sunday (May 12), at the very soonest.

Today, Gisha sent an urgent letter (Hebrew) to Israel’s defense minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Brig. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun. In the letter, Gisha emphasizes the drastic implications of the crossings’ continued closure and the ban on access to Gaza’s sea: Delivery of goods to the Strip is obstructed, including humanitarian goods; people who have obtained permits to meet first-degree family members in humanitarian circumstances are denied access to their loved ones; medical patients miss crucial appointments for life-saving treatments that can take weeks, even months, to reschedule. Every day in which the crossings are closed and access to Gaza’s sea is denied entails irreversible damage to livelihoods, including of traders, farmers and fishermen, severely disrupting already meager industry and commerce in the Strip.

The activity at the crossings is imperative to maintaining living conditions in the Strip. Their continuous closure, yesterday, today, and during the Israeli national holidays, has nothing to do with the security of Israeli citizens. There is cause for concern that Israel’s closure of the crossings constitutes collective punishment, which is illegal and morally reprehensible. Israel must open the crossings and allow access to Gaza’s sea space, without further delay.

To read the letter (Hebrew), see here.