Israel has imposed movement restrictions on the Gaza Strip since the early 1990’s. Restrictions intensified in June 2007, following the takeover of that part of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) by Hamas, when Israel imposed a land, sea and air blockade on Gaza, citing security concerns. Despite relaxation of some blockade-related restrictions in recent years, 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza remain ‘locked in’, denied free access to the remainder of the territory and the outside world. The blockade has undermined the living conditions in the coastal enclave and fragmented the oPt and its economic and social fabric. The isolation of Gaza has been exacerbated by restrictions imposed by the Egyptian authorities on Rafah, its single passengers crossing.
Palestinians in Gaza who wish to exit the enclave can only do so through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing or the Rafah crossing, which is controlled by Egypt. The Erez crossing is vitally important as it controls the movement of people between Gaza and the West Bank via Israel. Since the early 1990s, Palestinian residents of Gaza have required an exit permit to leave through Erez. Under a policy implemented since the beginning of the second Intifada in September 2000 - and tightened after June 2007, citing security concerns, following the takeover of Gaza by Hamas - only people belonging to specific Israeli-defined categories are eligible for an exit permit, subject to a security check.
Between 9 July and 15 August, the Israeli authorities severely tightened restrictions on the movement of goods through the Kerem Shalom crossing between Gaza and Israel, and further reduced the area permitted for fishing at sea from six/nine to three nautical miles. According to the Israeli authorities, these measures were in response to the launching of incendiary kites and balloons from Gaza into Israel that have resulted in extensive property damage. In May, over the course of the demonstrations, the crossing was set on fire and damaged twice by demonstrators, and closed for a few days on each occasion.
In recent months, citing security concerns, the Israeli authorities, and to a lesser extent Hamas, have tightened restrictions on the movement of Palestinian humanitarian staff out of Gaza. Measures by the Israeli authorities include an increase in the processing time for exit permits, a rise in denials and one-year bans, restrictions on the type of items allowed to be taken out of Gaza, and new crossing procedures at the vehicle terminal. The Hamas authorities have established a new registration point at the entrance to Gaza. These measures have increased uncertainty, delays and logistical impediments, and have a negative impact on humanitarian operations. The UN continues to conduct negotiations with all relevant actors in Israel and Gaza to alleviate these challenges.
Joint Press statement from Jamie McGoldrick, Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territory, James Heenan, Head of OHCHR in oPt and Genevieve Boutin, UNICEF Special Representative in State of Palestine
Today, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, Mr. Jamie McGoldrick, visited the Gaza Strip and called for urgent measures to prevent further deterioration in the humanitarian situation there, following intensified movement restrictions.
Mass demonstrations along Israel’s perimeter fence with the Gaza Strip took place today for the eleventh consecutive Friday, as part of the ‘Great March of Return’. As of 20:00, Israeli forces killed four Palestinians, including one 15-year-old boy, and injured 618 demonstrators, according to the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Gaza. 254 of the injuries were transferred to hospitals, including 117 due to live ammunition injuries, according to the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Gaza. Eight are said to be in a critical condition. One Israeli soldier was also reportedly lightly injured. Today’s casualty toll was the highest since the demonstrations on 14 May, when over 60 Palestinians were killed and 2,000 injured, the highest casualty toll in the Gaza Strip in a single day since the 2014 hostilities. For cumulative casualty figures and breakdowns, as of 7 June, see the OCHA Snapshot.