The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) in a statement on Tuesday strongly condemned the Israeli authorities decisions to tighten the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip, close the only commercial crossing “Karm Abu Salem” completely and ban the entry of goods and basic needs for the Gaza Strip population.
PCHR warned of the consequences of these decisions on the lives of 2 million Palestinians suffering from the deterioration of economic and social conditions in the Gaza Strip.
It also 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, 16 July 2018, the Israeli authorities announced the Minister of Defense approval of the Chief Staff recommendation to close the Karm Abu Salem crossing immediately and completely, except for the transportation of food, medicine and medical materials, which will be approved for entry if needed. Upon the same decision, the Israeli authorities reduced the fishing area in the Gaza Strip to 3 nautical miles instead of 6. According to the Israeli statement, the decision was taken in response to flying kites and firing balloons by Hamas towards the buffer zone along the Gaza strip. The crossing will be closed until next Sunday. It should be noted that the Israeli authorities previously decided to impose a partial closure on Karm Abu Salem Crossing on 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.
These decisions are 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 12 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 statement said it is 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. The center said it considers this decision as a form of collective punishment and an act of revenge committed by the Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians.
In light of the above, 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.
It also called on 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, and to 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.
PCHR also called on the international community to 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”, and 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.