Four days after escalation in Gaza, movement through the crossings is extremely limited

A truck on its way to Kerem Shalom Crossing. Image: Eman Mohammed

March 16, 2014. Four days after an escalation in hostilities, the crossings between Gaza and Israel remain almost completely closed. Kerem Shalom Crossing has been closed to passage of goods since Thursday and opened on Sunday only for the transfer of fuel and cooking gas to the Strip. Movement of people at Erez Crossing has also been limited since Thursday. The crossing is open only for urgent medical cases and exit of foreign citizens who request advance coordination. The crossing is closed to those wishing to return to Gaza via Israel. Of note, while Kerem Shalom has been closed in previous years for the celebration of the Jewish holiday taking place today, Purim, Erez remained open during the holiday.

As a result of the closing of Kerem Shalom, on Thursday, one truckload of tomatoes could not be exported as planned to Europe. Farmers informed us that they would likely be compelled to destroy the goods. Today, an additional truckload of cherry tomatoes was meant to exit the Strip.

Transfer of fuel and cooking gas to the Strip were permitted via Kerem Shalom today. A donation of funds to the Palestinian Authority for the purchase of fuel ran out last week and thus fuel for the power plant was lacking. The plant shut down on Saturday. Residents of the Strip are currently experiencing power outages of about 16 hours per day. A new donation of funds from Qatar for the purchase of fuel has yet to arrive.

Rafah Crossing, connecting Gaza and Egypt, also remains closed. Since the beginning of March, Rafah Crossing has been open on three days only: two days for the exit of pilgrims from Gaza and one day for people returning to Gaza via Egypt.