Background: Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of over two million Palestinian residents. Many of the current restrictions, originally imposed by the Israeli authorities in the early 1990s, were intensified after June 2007, following the Hamas takeover of Gaza when the Israeli authorities imposed a blockade. While recently there has been some easing in importation restrictions, they continue to reduce access to livelihoods, essential services and housing, disrupt family life, and undermine people’s hopes for a secure and prosperous future. The situation has been compounded by the restrictions imposed by the Egyptian authorities at Rafah crossing.
Palestinian farmers harvesting strawberries in Beit Lahia, the Gaza Strip, ahead of their export, 23 February 2023. Photo by OCHA
Background: Palestinians are banned from leaving Gaza via Israel, including for passage to the West Bank, unless they obtain an Israeli-issued exit permit. Only those belonging to certain categories, primarily traders (including de facto daily labourers), patients and their accompaniers, and aid workers, can apply for such permits. Other people are not eligible for a permit, even if they do not pose a security risk, according to the Israeli authorities. In most cases, the Israeli authorities do not provide specific reasons for the rejection of an application. If an application is approved, the permit holder may cross through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing, which operates during the daytime, from Sunday to Thursday, and on Fridays for urgent cases and foreign nationals only.
Background: Palestinians wishing to leave Gaza via Egypt must register with the local Palestinian authorities two to four weeks in advance. People may also apply directly to the Egyptian authorities, using the services of a private company. The procedures and decisions by both authorities lack transparency. Those that are approved exit through the Rafah Crossing, controlled by the Egyptian authorities, which operates from Sundays to Thursdays. The journey through the Sinai desert is often lengthy and includes multiple stops for checks by Egyptian security forces.
General goods (excluding fuel and gas)
Background: Since the imposition of the blockade in 2007, the Israeli authorities have restricted the entry into Gaza of goods they consider having a dual (civilian and military) use, such as building materials, certain medical equipment, and some agricultural items. Some of these goods may be allowed entry, following a lengthy application and review process. It is worth noting that, recently, a limited number of these items have been allowed to enter Gaza (e.g.: cement and steel bars). The entry of all goods from or via Israel (including non-restricted goods) is only possible via the Kerem Shalom crossing, following prior coordination with Israeli authorities. Since 2018, goods have also entered Gaza regularly from Egypt, via the Rafah crossing, controlled by the Egyptian authorities, and then through the adjacent Salah Ad Din Gate, controlled by the local authorities.
Monthly average of incoming goods to Gaza (truckloads)
Fuel and gas
Background: Most products traded outside of Gaza are transported to markets via the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, where various physical and administrative restrictions apply. The exit of goods to the West Bank and Israel, the main markets, was totally banned between 2007 and 2014, then gradually reinstated. Since August 2021, certain goods have been exported to Egypt, via Rafah crossing.