Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Israel’s closure of Gaza reached the six year mark. Corresponding with the changes on the Egyptian border, more goods entered Gaza via Kerem Shalom Crossing and more exits were recorded at Erez Crossing, connecting Gaza to Israel and the West Bank. Nonetheless, sweeping and indiscriminate restrictions on travel and on movement of goods between Gaza and the West Bank and Israel remained nearly unchanged in 2013. Criteria for travel of people remained stringent and appear to have been enforced with greater severity, a punishing restriction on entrance of construction materials was introduced late in the year and Israel continued to enforce a ban on the exit of goods from Gaza to its traditional markets in Israel and the West Bank, despite the installment of a new and powerful scanner donated by the Dutch government at the cargo crossing, Kerem Shalom.
- Restrictions on exit of goods continue: For the second time since 2007, in August, Israel permitted an exception to its ban on allowing goods from Gaza to enter Israel when it allowed two truckloads of palm fronds to enter Israel for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon insisted on the need to maintain the ban despite the installation of a powerful scanner at the Kerem Shalom Crossing, a donation to the Palestinian Authority by the Government of the Netherlands.
- Re-instatement of the ban on construction materials: On October 13th, following the announcement of discovery of a tunnel dug between Gaza and Israel, Israel halted the transfer of construction materials to the Strip. On December 8th, it announced it would allow some goods to enter for UN projects but not for the private sector.
- Punitive actions following rocket fire: Following Operation Pillar of Defense, in November 2012 Israel announced an expansion of the permitted fishing area, which was reduced again in March 2013 and then re-expanded in May. Also throughout the year, as a response to rocket fire, the defense minister ordered Kerem Shalom Crossing closed on six occasions.
- Restrictions on people: In 2013, Israel continued to restrict movement of people between Gaza, Israel and the West Bank to “exceptional humanitarian cases, with an emphasis on urgent medical cases”. At the same time, as travel via Rafah was reduced in the second half of the year, increases were seen in the number of exits via Erez in all categories.
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