Two months after last May’s ceasefire with Hamas came into effect, Israel continues to exploit its control over the Gaza crossings and fishing zones, and is still enforcing a ban on the entry of construction and other crucial materials into the Strip. This is a breach of Israel’s legal and moral obligation to allow residents access to whatever they need to rebuild after the war and lead normal lives.
The Israeli NGO Gisha – Legal Center for the Freedom of Movement — has written: “Israel continues to abuse its control over the crossings and fishing zone to apply pressure as part of its continued negotiations with Hamas. The ongoing movement and access restrictions it is enforcing constitute illegal collective punishment of Gaza’s entire population, which is unacceptable.” Gisha has called on Israel “to fulfill its legal and moral obligations to allow residents access to all that is needed to facilitate normal life and rebuild the Strip. In particular, Israel must immediately enable access to materials and equipment needed to repair basic civilian infrastructure.” Gisha goes on to report:
“On July 12, Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced some minor ‘easings’ to Israel’s policy at Gaza’s commercial crossing, Kerem Shalom. Israel added items to the list of goods allowed in to the Strip. As of July 12, the list of permitted items includes medical equipment, fishing and farming equipment, raw materials for the production of cosmetics, cleaning products and medicine, textiles, shoes, houseware items, school supplies, bags, brushes, medical chairs, blankets, and more.
“However, these minor modifications fall short of meeting current needs, let alone filling extensive supply gaps in Gaza. Israel continues to block the entry of thousands of items into Gaza, including construction materials, raw materials, spare parts, and equipment that are critically needed in the Strip for industry, reconstruction of homes, and repair of civilian infrastructure damaged or destroyed during hostilities.
“Continued restrictions on the entry of goods have also had a dire impact on Gaza’s transport sector. According to Ismail al-Nahleh, director of the Car Importers Association in Gaza, Israel is holding goods with an estimated value of about 30 million USD, including more than 500 cars. Israel’s ban on entry of vehicles and tires has sent prices soaring.
“Severe restrictions on the sale of other Gaza goods in Israel, the West Bank, and abroad have resulted in price hikes in the local market and the destruction of agricultural goods. Businesses and factories in Gaza have sustained heavy financial losses due to measures imposed by Israel, estimated at millions of dollars, and employees have been laid off. All of this among a population still reeling from the latest war and in an already beleaguered economy with nearly 50% unemployment.”
For more details from Gisha’s latest update: https://gisha.org/en/crossings_update_july_21/