Palestinians in Gaza are ‘locked in’, denied free access to the remainder of the occupied Palestinian territory and the outside world. Movement restrictions imposed by Israel since the early 1990’s and intensified in June 2007, following the takeover of Gaza by Hamas, have severely undermined the living conditions. The isolation of Gaza has been exacerbated by restrictions imposed by the Egyptian authorities on its single passengers crossing (Rafah), as well as by the internal Palestinian divide. The UN Secretary-General has found that the blockade and related restrictions contravene international humanitarian law as they target and impose hardship on the civilian population, effectively penalizing them for acts they have not committed. Major escalations of hostilities in the past years have resulted in extensive destruction and internal displacement.
The Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip imposed in 2007, citing security concerns, as well as the access restrictions imposed by Egypt, were eased in some ways during 2019. However, the movement of people and goods to, from, and within Gaza remained severely constrained.
Muslih A’ta Wafi lives with his wife and seven children on the ground floor of a threestorey house in one of the lowest points of Khan Younis city. “In preparation for the 2018 winter season, we added another layer to the floor to raise it and prevent flooding,” said Muslih. “Unfortunately, this only prevented light rain from flooding the house, but whenever it rained heavily, our home flooded with a mix of sewage and rainwater. Last year, we lost most of our furniture.”
Evictions have become routine for Eitidal, aged 30, a wife and mother of two daughters: Layali, 11, and Rimas, 7. Her husband, Medhat, 33, suffers from epileptic seizures and psychological problems, and has been unable to find regular employment. Over the past few years, the family has been evicted twice over accumulated, unpaid rent.
“I have been fishing since I was ten years old and fishing is the only source of income for my wife, myself and our 10 children,” said Fadi, a 44-year-old fisher from Gaza city.
On 1 April 2019, the Israeli authorities expanded the permissible fishing area along the southern and central parts of Gaza’s coast from six up to 15 nautical miles (NM) offshore, the furthest distance that Gaza’s fishers have been permitted to access since 2000. Access to the northern areas along the coast remain more limited at up to 6 NM, well below the 20 NM agreed under the Oslo Accords
An oPt Humanitarian Fund success story: Anas Al Maniarawi is a 27-year-old student and aspiring mechanical engineer. He was in his final semester at university when his life was turned upside down. On 18 May 2018, he was hit by live ammunition, during one of the ‘Great March of Return’ (GMR) demonstrations at Israel’s perimeter fence surrounding the Gaza Strip. Anas was shot in his left leg, which had to be amputated below the knee due to muscle and bone damage
The increase in electricity supply in the Gaza Strip since October 2018 has improved the delivery of water and sanitation services, while reducing expenditure on fuel for back-up generators for households and businesses. This increase has also reduced the need for the emergency fuel provided by the UN to avert the collapse of key service providers.