Despite concerns, crossings are operating

Erez Crossing was open for those who meet the existing, narrow criteria. Erez Crossing. Photo: Karl Schembri

Erez Crossing was open for those who meet the existing, narrow criteria. Erez Crossing. Photo: Karl Schembri

October 11, 2015. Reports yesterday citing Palestinian sources claimed that Erez Crossing might remain closed for three days in response to rocket fire toward Israel. Today, however, the crossing operated according to its regular schedule and directives.

Erez is the only crossing through which people are permitted to travel to and from the Gaza Strip to Israel and the West Bank. Israel allows passage through Erez according to a narrow list of criteria. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has ordered the closing of crossings on a number of occasions, interpreting this as a legitimate response to rockets, yet such actions directly harm innocent civilians who make use of the crossing: businesspeople, patients in need of urgent medical treatment and individuals visiting family members in humanitarian circumstances (to attend the weddings, funerals or sickbeds of mostly first-degree relatives only). Gisha calls on Israel’s security establishment to refrain from imposing further restrictions on Gaza crossings and engaging in other actions which collectively punish civilians for hostile acts in which they are not engaged, noting that such actions have never succeeded in preventing escalations in violence.

Recent trends in movement via Erez Crossing

September saw a drop of 34% in the number of exits of Palestinians from Gaza via Erez Crossing across all categories, from 17,800 exits recorded in August to 11,804 in September. The crossing was closed on five days for Jewish holidays, but averages for daily travel are in decline for the third month running: 735 exits per day in July, 685 in August and just 562 in September.

Movement of goods via Kerem Shalom

Kerem Shalom Crossing also operated today as usual. Reports last week claimed that gravel has been removed from the “dual-use” list and, as of today, will be allowed into Gaza for the private sector and not through the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism. Since September 2014, following the ceasefire agreement ending last summer’s hostilities, and until the end of September 2015 a total of around two million tons of construction material entered Gaza, about 9% of the total need.

For further reading on the GRM click here

COGAT recently announced that beginning October 7th marketing of furniture, textile and scrap iron from Gaza to Israel would be allowed. However, it appears marketing will be delayed due to a need to assess methods for issuing of receipts and collecting VAT on products exiting the Strip. The furniture sector is in a crisis, due to the ban on entrance of wood and time is needed in order for merchants to re-establish contacts.

Since the beginning of the year until the end of September, 831 truckloads of goods have exited Gaza via Kerem Shalom, an average of 92 truckloads per month – or about 8.6% of the monthly average on the eve of the closure in 2007.