Background: Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of its 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. Despite some easing of import restrictions since 2021, the remaining limitations continue to hinder access to livelihoods, essential services, and housing, disrupting family life and undermining 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.
A Palestinian fisher in Gaza, where fish is one of few types of commodities allowed out. In July, they accounted for 6 per cent of the outgoing truckloads. Photo by OCHA
Palestinians are banned from exiting 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 day labourers, traders, patients and their accompaniers, and aid workers, may apply for such permits. Other people are not eligible for a permit even if according to the Israeli authorities they do not pose a security risk. In many cases, the Israeli authorities do not provide specific reasons for the rejection of an application. If an application is approved, the permit holder may travel 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 exit Gaza via Egypt must register with the local Palestinian authorities two to four weeks in advance. People may also apply to the Egyptian authorities, using the services of a private company. The procedures and decisions by both authorities lack transparency. Approved passengers exit through the Rafah Crossing, which is controlled and operated by the Egyptian authorities from Sundays to Thursdays. The journey through the Sinai desert is often lengthy and includes multiple stops for checks by Egyptian 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. The entry of most of the goods from or via Israel (including non-restricted goods) is only possible via the Kerem Shalom crossing, following prior coordination with the 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 restrictions apply. The exit of goods to the West Bank and Israel, Gaza’s main markets, was banned between 2007 and 2014, and then gradually reinstated. Since August 2021, certain goods have been exported to Egypt, via the Salah Ad Din gate and Rafah crossing.