Israeli authorities have reportedly introduced new restrictions which further strangulate the movement of goods from and into the Gaza Strip. Fishermen have also been subjected to more restrictions which decrease the space in which they are allowed fish.
Adopted after talks on 9 July 2018 between the Israeli premier, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, these new measures are reportedly aimed at adding pressure on the Great Return March demonstrations, as the flying of incendiary kites and balloons over the fence continues.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights has already documented practical applications of the new measures. The fishing zone has been shrunken from nine to six nautical miles in the area between south Gaza city and Rafah city, in the southernmost Gaza Strip. When and if fishermen sail beyond this limit, they are more vulnerable to attack by Israeli naval forces. Also, construction materials and other goods have been barred from entry into Gaza, on Tuesday and Wednesday, 10-11 July, 2018, in the context of the newly-introduced restrictions.
Raed Fattouh, chairman of the Presidential Committee on Coordination of Goods (PCCG), spoke with Al Mezan about the new restrictions. He stated that, on Monday, 9 July, 2018, he was informed by Israeli authorities that a complete ban on all kinds of exports from Gaza is to be put into action, in addition to additional restrictions on what types of goods are allowed into Gaza. Anything besides food, fuel, and medical necessities would be automatically barred from entry, effective on 10 July, 2018.
This enhanced strangulation of Gaza coincides with preparations for the new academic year 2018/2019. Stationary, school uniforms and clothing materials, printing ink and paper, among a range of other school articles, are already or will be missing in the local market, posing increased difficulty in Palestiniansâ access to education.
Private sector actors have appealed to PCCG to intervene and get Israeli authorities to allow the entry of raw materials for printing, to which Israel responded with rejection. Worse yet, traders with goods arriving at Israeli seaports will bear the great brunt of these escalated restrictions, as they will have to pay what is know as the âfloorâ cost, to keep their imported goodsâwhich are subject to spoilageâ in Israeli stores. The promise of all this is only a more accelerated collapse of the economic and social situation of Gaza.
Given that these restrictions impact each sector in Gaza, those to suffer the most are internally displaced persons whose houses Israel forces destroyed in Operation Protective Edge. Only 53% of houses destroyed then, totaling 11,000 houses completely destroyed, have since been re-built or are in the process of reconstruction. This is a direct result of Israelâs strict limitations on entry of construction materials.
Persisting in such a context are tremendous challenges to accessing the rights to education, to work, and to healthcare. Poverty, including abject poverty, and unemployment rates have risen to unprecedented levels. Other rights, such as the right to water and sanitation, and to a safe environment, have also been seriouslyÂ infringed upon, as the electricity crisis remains unresolved.
Since October of 2000, Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip have born the heavy brunt of Israeli violations, including severe restrictions on movement, through control of borders and expanding access-restricted areas; perpetuation of attacks on land, in the sea, and from the air; and use of excessive and lethal force against civilians. Alarmed by consequences of these systematic and persisting violations, the United Nations has warned that the Gaza Strip would be uninhabitable by 2020; a benchmark the UN has since brought forward, given the accelerated collapse of the basic services and the infrastructure.
Al Mezan rejects and condemns the continued and escalated violations of the right to free movement, including through the ongoing closure and blockade of the Gaza Strip by air, land, and sea. Al Mezan calls upon the international community to cease its silence and lack of action towards Israelâs grave breaches of human rights, in line with state obligations under international humanitarian law and the Fourth Geneva Convention. The international community must act promptly and effectively to end the closure and blockade policy, to depoliticize responses to the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, and to support efforts in improving the current, dire living conditions of Palestinians and their access to their basic human rights.
(edited for the IMEMC by c h r is @ i m e m c . o r g)
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