Damages in Gaza assessed at 3.1 million USD following latest hostilities; Israel reopens crossings, restores “fishing zone” to previous demarcation

Kerem Shalom Crossing. Photo by Gisha

November 18, 2019. The round of hostilities that began with Israel’s assassination of an Islamic Jihad official in Gaza last Tuesday petered out over the weekend, but the full extent of the resulting damage in the Strip is still being assessed. At least 34 Palestinians were killed in Israeli airstrikes, among them three women and eight children. Dozens more were injured, in both Gaza and Israel. For three days, Israel limited movement through Gaza’s crossings to an even greater extent than usual.

According to assessments by the Office of Public Works and Housing in the Strip, Israel’s bombardment of the Strip resulted in direct damages estimated at 3.1 million USD, not including extensive indirect damages. Five hundred housing units were hit, 30 of them either completely destroyed or damaged to the point that they are no longer inhabitable. The cost of rebuilding these homes is estimated at two million USD. Damage to civilian infrastructure such as roads, water and sewage treatment, and electricity is estimated at 300,000 USD. Damage to farmlands, irrigation systems and fishing boats is estimated at 500,000 USD. Damage to businesses, cars, public transport and buildings is estimated at a further 300,000 USD. Importantly, the reconstruction of housing units destroyed during Israel’s 2014 military operation in the Strip has yet to be completed, and there is a deficit in funding still needed to rebuild about 2,000 homes.

Yesterday morning (November 17), Kerem Shalom Crossing was reopened for entry and exit of goods, subject to ongoing restrictions enforced by Israel on movement of goods to and from the Strip. Last Tuesday (November 12), Israel closed the crossing completely. On Wednesday, the crossing was closed other than for entrance of fuel for Gaza’s power plant and on Thursday only fuel and cooking gas were allowed to enter the Strip. According to assessments by the Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza, the three-day closure of the crossing barred the marketing of some 450 tons of agricultural produce from Gaza, worth approximately 500,000 USD. Businesspeople from other industrial sectors, such as textile and furniture, are concerned that the closure of the crossing could harm the hard-earned trust of their clients, whose shipments were delayed.

Late Thursday afternoon (November 14), Israel reopened Erez Crossing to movement of people in both directions, subject to ongoing restrictions enforced by Israel on travel to and from the Strip. From last Tuesday-Thursday (November 12-14), the crossing was closed for exit from the Strip, other than for cancer patients, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, and foreign passport holders. Residents of Gaza, foreign nationals, and Israeli citizens holding permits were allowed to enter the Strip, subject to prior coordination.

Also on Thursday afternoon, Israel restored access to Gaza’s “fishing zone” to its previous demarcation, after two and a half days during which access to the Strip’s sea space was limited to a distance of up to 6 nautical miles in the south of the Strip. The current demarcation of the zone allows fishermen to access the sea at a distance of up to 6 nautical miles north of Wadi Gaza, and at a distance of between 9 and 15 nautical miles to its south.