Crossings update: Rafah Crossing opens for four days. Erez Crossing still under lockdown

Rafah Crossing. Photo by Asmaa Elkhaldi

November 11, 2020. Rafah Crossing was opened by Egypt last week for four days (November 2-5) for travel in both directions. This is just the fifth time Rafah Crossing has opened for return to Gaza, and the third time for exiting the Strip, since it was shut down in March 2020 in response to the pandemic outbreak. The crossing last opened in late September.

Exit from Gaza via Rafah Crossing is subject to narrow criteria set by Egypt: Patients with referrals for medical treatment, holders of foreign passports, and residents with visas to a third country. Last week, a total of 3,171 people exited the Strip, and 1,337 people returned to it.

Erez Crossing is still under a lockdown imposed by Israel, and travel through it is severely restricted. During October, a total of 613 exits from Gaza were recorded at the crossing, which is only about 4% of the monthly average number of exits in 2019. Almost all exits are by patients seeking critical treatment and their companions. Kerem Shalom Crossing, Gaza’s only commercial crossing, is operating as usual for movement of goods in both directions.

As of November 1, under new instructions from local authorities, people entering the Strip are required to show proof of having tested negative for COVID-19 at most 48 hours prior to their arrival to Gaza, or be tested immediately upon entry and then stay in home isolation until they receive results. Individuals who test positive are required to report to one of several official isolation facilities. Previously, people entering Gaza via its pedestrian crossings were compelled to quarantine in government-run facilities across the Strip. Initially, residents were required to remain in the facilities for 21 days, while later the period was shortened to a week.

The authorities in Gaza are scaling back restrictive measures imposed in an effort to curb the spread of the pandemic within Gaza, according to a “traffic light” system. In areas that are not marked red schoolchildren are gradually returning to school, where classes have been divided into smaller groups. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, for more than a week there have been more than 200 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed every day. Recently, the percentage of positive test results is around 10% of all tests conducted in the Strip. As of this morning, there have been 9,231 confirmed coronavirus cases in Gaza, 3,052 of which are still active, and 43 have died.