The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) in Gaza on Wednesday condemned the Israeli authorities decision to tighten the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip and close the only commercial crossing “Karm Abu Salem” and warns of its consequences on the entry of goods and basic needs for the Gaza Strip population.
PCHR called upon the international community, especially the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, and all humanitarian organizations to immediately intervene in order to stop this decision, lift the closure, and open all crossings to ensure the entry of all the Gaza Strip population’s needs, especially basic goods. Moreover, PCHR affirmed that this decision was the culmination of several previous decisions that the Israeli authorities have implemented since June 2007 in the context of a plan to tighten the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip.
According to PCHR’s follow-up, on Monday, 09 July 2018, the Israeli authorities announced the approval of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense and the Chief Staff to close the Karm Abu Salem crossing from Tuesday 10 July 2018 and prevent the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip, except for some humanitarian goods, including food and medicine. Furthermore, the Israeli authorities imposed a complete ban on exporting and marketing goods from Gaza Strip. Upon the same decision, the Israeli authorities reduced the fishing area in the Gaza Strip to six nautical miles instead of nine. According to the Israeli statement, the decision was taken in response to flying kites and balloons by Hamas towards the buffer zone along the Gaza strip . The Israeli authorities have threatened to intensify punitive measures against the Gaza strip population under the pretext of maintaining “Israel’s security”.
The chairman of the Coordination Committee for the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip, Raed Fattouh, said that the Israeli authorities informed them of preventing the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip except for food and medical supplies, as well as wheat, feeds, cows, hay and petrol. Fattouh affirms that the Israeli authorities completely prevented exporting from the Gaza Strip to West Bank or abroad.
He added that the Coordination Committee for the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip has informed the traders of the Israeli decision, which shall take effect on Tuesday, pointing out that the decision includes international projects in the Gaza Strip.
This decision is part of the framework of the complete closure policy imposed by the Israeli authorities on the Gaza Strip since June 2007, as the crossings have witnessed tight restrictions on the movement of goods and persons for 11 years .
Regarding commercial crossings, the Israeli authorities continue to impose strict restrictions on the entry of goods classified as “dual use materials.” The Israeli authorities officially list 118 items as “dual use items” which contain hundreds of goods and basic materials. The Israeli authorities also continue to ban the export of Gaza Strip products, excluding limited quantities of 5% of monthly exports before the closure in June 2007. Regarding the crossings points for individuals movement , the Israeli authorities continue to impose tight restrictions on the movement of the Gaza Strip residents through Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, except for limited categories of individuals.
PCHR said it was highly concerned with the Israeli authorities’ decision to tighten the closure on the Gaza Strip due to its catastrophic impact on the economic and living conditions of the Gaza Strip population.
PCHR called upon the international community to:
– Immediate and urgent intervention to put this decision to an end, open the only commercial crossing for the Gaza Strip, “Karm Abu Salem”, allow the entry of all the Gaza strip population’s needs, including basic goods and construction materials, and allow the export of the Gaza strip goods freely .
– Immediate and urgent intervention to ensure the respect of the rules of international humanitarian and human rights law in order to stop the serious deterioration in the lives of the civilian in the Gaza Strip.
-Force the Israeli authorities to abandon the policy of collective punishment imposed on the population of the Gaza Strip, including the closure of the crossings, which leads to a serious deterioration in the civilians economic and social rights.
– Remind Israel of its obligations as an occupying power of the Gaza Strip to its population, in accordance with Article 55 of the Geneva Convention of 1949, which states: “The occupying Power shall, to the fullest extent of its means, provide the population with food and supplies and must take into account the needs of the civilian population”.
– The High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention must comply with their obligations under article 1 of the Convention to ensure the implementation of this Convention by the Occupying Power of Israel to the protection of Palestinian civilians.
United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov on Tuesday as well expressed concerns over the consequences of Israel’s decision to temporarily suspend imports and exports with the exception of basic humanitarian supplies through the Kerem Shalom crossing.
“Humanitarian assistance is no substitute for commerce and trade. I urge the authorities to reverse this decision,” Mladenov said.
He added that Hamas and other Palestinian factions in Gaza should also do their part by “maintaining calm, stopping incendiary kites and preventing other provocations.”
Mladenov said that the United Nations is continuing its engagement with Israeli and Palestinian counterparts, as well as regional and international partners, to reduce tensions, support intra-Palestinian reconciliation and resolve all humanitarian challenges. This latest development must not divert us from this urgent course of action.