The punch line of a cruel joke

Carpentries in Gaza are allowed to sell furniture in Israel and the West Bank, but are forbidden from buying the wood to build it with

This is how it works: Israel limits the entry of civilian goods into the Gaza Strip. In 2012, Gisha compelled the state to reveal the formulae it used to calculate how much and what kind of food it allowed Gaza residents to receive until 2010, when its policy on entrance of goods to Gaza was exceedingly restrictive. After the Marmara flotilla incident in 2010, the policy changed. Everything was allowed in, except for a list of items that require special permits. These are defined as “dual-use” items, as, allegedly, there is concern that they can be used for military purposes.

The dual-use item list (Hebrew) impacts all areas of life in the Gaza Strip: the shortage in cranes and heavy machinery undermines emergency readiness and increases building costs. The entry of medical equipment is delayed; metal pipes, which are needed for construction, infrastructure and industry, are restricted, and more.

In late 2014, following the massive damage caused during Operation Protective Edge, Israel, for the first time since it imposed the closure seven years earlier, allowed controlled entry of construction materials into the Gaza Strip for the private sector, barring limited exceptions. Yet, at the same time, the list of dual-use items has been greatly expanded. In April 2015, for instance, Israel announced it would not allow wood planks that are 5 or more centimeters thick into the Gaza Strip (later it reduced this to 1 cm) – causing the collapse of Gaza’s furniture industry. We contacted the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) about this issue late last year, after an order that prohibits the entry of such wood planks without a special permit was issued. In his response, COGAT claimed, “Israel is under no obligation to allow products of this type into the Gaza Strip”.

Israel also restricts the entry of castor oil, fertilizers, x-ray machines, fax machines, printers, cranes, heavy machinery, uninterrupted power supply (UPS) devices, batteries, welding apparatuses and more. Industry, trade and the economy as a whole cannot be rehabilitated without the materials and equipment that are essential to them. The process by which permits are given remains vague and even knowing exactly what is on the list is difficult to understand. The harm done, however, is as clear as day.

For more on the list of items defined as dual-use and the vagueness surrounding it.


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