on December 3, 2000
The Impact of Total Closure on the Gaza
All peoples have the right of self-determination.
By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and
freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and
resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international
economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and
international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of
1, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1996)
one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
17, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory,
have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence.
Everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own.
12, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)
protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally
committed. Collective penalties and
likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.
Pillage is prohibited. Reprisals
against protected persons and their property are prohibited.
33, the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons
in Time of War (1949)
High Contracting Party shall allow the free passage of all consignments of
medical and hospital stores and objects necessary for religious worship intended
only for civilians of another High Contracting Party, even if the latter is its
adversary. It shall likewise permit
the free passage of all consignments of essential foodstuffs, clothing and
tonics intended for children under fifteen, expectant mothers and maternity
Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time
of War (1949)
The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which
includes the right of every one to the opportunity to gain his living by work
which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard
6, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)
The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to
the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve
the full realization of this right shall include: …
the creation of conditions which could assure to all medical service and
medical attention in the event of sickness.
12, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)
The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to
education. They agree that
education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and
the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and
13, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)
The Impact of Total Closure on the Gaza Strip
is the 28th special update in a series published by the Palestinian
Centre for Human Rights on the total closure imposed by the Israeli occupation
forces on the Gaza Strip. The
Israeli occupation authorities have continued to impose a total siege on the
occupied Palestinian territories for the third consecutive month, since
September 29, 2000. The latest
information gathered by PCHR refutes the claims of the Israeli occupation
authorities regarding their easing of the siege.
These authorities have allowed the entry of some foodstuffs under strict
measures and in limited amounts; however, they have continued to impose
restrictions on the free movement of goods from and into the Gaza Strip.
In addition, they have continued to impose strict measures limiting free
movement between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and between the Gaza Strip
and Israel as well as the outside world. Under
such circumstances, more than 24,000 laborers from the Gaza Strip have been
denied access to their work places inside the Green Line.
Hundreds of Gazan students at the universities of the West Bank have been
deprived of their right to education. In addition, families have been prevented
from visiting their sons detained in the Israeli jails.
Hundreds of patients from the Gaza Strip have been deprived of their
right to receive suitable treatment outside the Gaza Strip.
Furthermore, since November 20, 2000, citizens of the Gaza Strip have
lacked free movement between the north and south of the Gaza Strip, and between
Palestinian cities because the Israeli occupation forces have closed Salah
El-Din Street, separating the north of the Gaza Strip from its south.
As a result, citizens have experienced difficulties in reaching their
work places and students have not been able to attend their universities and
schools. This constitutes a
hindrance to work and education in the Gaza Strip.
In this context, the suffering of Palestinians increases and living
conditions deteriorate on all levels.
It has become clear that the policy
of closure is a systematic policy adopted by the Israeli occupation forces as an
action of collective punishment against more than two million Palestinians in
the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This
contradicts all international conventions and covenants, especially Article 33
of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons
in Time of War, which provides that “No protected person may be punished for
an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of
intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.
Pillage is prohibited. Reprisals
against protected persons and their property are prohibited.”
In this special update, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights continues
to review the daily impact of closure on the people of the Gaza Strip.
1. Continued Restrictions on Free Movement:
Israeli occupation authorities have continued to impose tough restrictions on
the free movement and passage from the Gaza Strip to Israel, the West Bank and
the outside world and vice versa. Consequently,
Palestinians have been deprived of travel from and into the Gaza Strip. This is a blatant violation by the Israeli occupation forces
of the right to free movement and travel. About
2,000 Palestinian citizens have been waiting at the Egyptian side of Rafah
Border Crossing, as the Israeli occupation authorities have refused to allow
their entry since these authorities closed the Crossing on November 20, 2000.
Palestinian sources stated that the conditions of these citizens, among
whom are the elderly, women and children, have worsened, as they have been
waiting outside the crossing without food and proper accommodations.
In addition, thousands of Palestinian families and citizens who wish to
travel for medical care abroad, or wish to come back to countries in which they
reside, have been blocked in the Gaza Strip since Rafah Border Crossing was
closed on November 20, 2000. Gaza
International Airport has also been closed since November 8, 2000.
November 28, 2000, the Israeli occupation authorities reopened Rafah Border
Crossing for travelers coming from Egypt, but with unjust and strict conditions.
Under new procedures established unilaterally by the Israeli occupation
authorities, Israeli personnel carried out the procedures for the entry of about
100 travelers coming from Egypt into the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian officials refused to send any of their personnel to the
Crossing in protest to changes in the established work conditions signed in
agreements between the two sides. Consequently,
the Crossing remains closed in practice. According
to PCHR’s field officer in Rafah, the new work conditions at the Crossing can
be summarized as follows:
A reduced Palestinian staff composed of seven employees, out of the
original staff number of 220, shall be able to work at the Crossing.
Members of the Palestinian security services shall not be able to work
any more at the Crossing.
The work hours at the Crossing shall be limited to seven hours a day,
from 8:00 to 15:00 local time.
Cars of Palestinian employees and VIPs shall not be able to enter the
The work at the Crossing shall be limited to procedures relative to
travelers coming to the Gaza Strip, and those who wish to travel abroad shall
not be able to do so.
Israeli occupation authorities partially reopened Gaza International Airport on
December 1, 2000, but under new work conditions and time limits, after it had
been closed for more than three weeks. But
there is significantly reduced benefit in re-opening the Airport so long as
Salah El-Din Street (the main road between the north and south of the Gaza
Strip) is closed and so long as the Palestinian territories are cut off from one
another by military roadblocks imposed by the Israeli occupation forces. The new conditions established by the Israeli occupation
authorities to operate Gaza International Airport are as follows:
The operation of the Airport shall be limited to six hours, from 9:00 to
15:00 local time.
Privileges granted to Palestinian VIPs of categories A and B shall be
Privileges granted to staff of Palestinian planes shall be canceled.
Security checking of Airport travelers shall be continued at Rafah Border
Crossing. These travelers shall be
transported to the Crossing by special vehicles that shall be escorted by tanks
of the Israel occupation forces instead of Israeli security personnel.
PCHR’s field officer in Rafah reported that the Israeli occupation
forces demolished a part of the fence of the Airport to facilitate the entry and
exit of tanks.
closures imposed on Palestinian citizens constitute another hindrance to
people’s free movement. The
Israeli occupation forces have continued to close Salah El-Din Street (the main
road between the north and south of the Gaza Strip), and tanks and armored
vehicles of these forces have been positioned at the main junctions of the Gaza
Strip. Furthermore, these forces have closed branch and bypass roads
with cement and dirt blocks. The
Israeli occupation forces have also resorted to tanks and armored vehicles to
prevent the free movement of Palestinian citizens between their cities.
Consequently, the south of the Gaza Strip has been completely isolated
from the north. PCHR’s field
officer in Khan Yunis reported that the Israeli occupation forces established a
new military post on a tract of land owned by the family of Abu Houli, on Salah
El-Din Street, to the north of Al-Matahen junction.
effect, Palestinian citizens have not been able to reach their work places and
students have not been able to attend classes at their universities in Gaza
City. On November 23, 2000, the
Israeli occupation forces partially reopened a branch road to the east of
Kissufim junction, a branch road that Palestinian citizens resort to in cases
when Salah El-Din Street (the main road between the north and south of the Gaza
Strip) is closed. The Israeli
occupation forces opened the eastern road from 10:00 to 12:00 and from 16:00 to
18:00 local time, allowing the passage of Palestinian citizens, but under
restrictions and humiliating security procedures.
PCHR’s field officer in the middle area of the Gaza Strip reported that
a Palestinian citizen from the southern area of the Gaza Strip, who was forced
to travel to Gaza City, had to travel on this road by taxi at 9:00 local time in
order for the taxi to be situated in a position near the road that would allow
it to cross the road when it was opened. When
taxis arrived at the road, Palestinian citizens had to get out of them and walk
2-3 kilometers to reach the other side of the road, before taking another taxi
to Gaza City. The same situation
was imposed on the way back in the afternoon.
Consequently, citizens could not take care of all their business in Gaza
City as they lost much time on their way back and forth.
In addition, they could not reach their work places on time.
separation between the north and south of the Gaza Strip has disturbed the
educational process as many teachers at schools in the southern area are from
the middle and northern areas of the Gaza Strip.
These teachers have not been able to reach their schools in the southern
area. In this regard, UNRWA tried to avoid such disturbances
through substituting teachers in these areas so that every teacher could teach
at a school in his or her neighborhood. This
program only partially solved the problem.
Moreover, there are about 14,000 students from the southern area who go
every day to their universities in Gaza City.
These students have faced many difficulties in reaching their
universities because the above-mentioned branch road leading to Gaza City has
not been open a sufficient number of hours to allow them to go and come back.
Study timetables have also been thrown into disarray.
there are more than 5,000 employees from the southern area of the Gaza Strip who
work in institutions of the Palestinian National Authority and NGOs in Gaza City
and the northern area. They have
not been able to reach their work places as usual as the hours for opening the
branch road have not been squared with their work timetables.
field officer in the middle areas reported that Palestinian citizens who wish to
pass along the road have undergone checking by Israeli occupation troops
deployed on the road. These troops
have used tear gas several times against Palestinian citizens.
As a result, these citizens have been terrified and have suffered from
fainting and suffocation caused by the tear gas.
Palestinian citizens have suffered as a result of closing the main road between
the north and south of the Gaza Strip, settlers have been allowed to move freely
on the main and branch roads under the escort of the Israeli occupation forces.
Israeli occupation forces have also continued to impose a siege on Al-Mawasi
(agricultural) area in Rafah and Khan Yunis, which is under the control of these
forces. This has increased the
suffering of residents in the area, deteriorating their living and health
conditions. In addition, settlers
have continuously attacked and provoked residents of the area to force them to
leave the area. The settlers have
confiscated land. In an escalatory
step on December 2, 2000, the Israeli occupation forces closed six branch roads
connecting Al-Mawasi (agricultural) area and its farms with the coastal road in
Khan Yunis. The use of barbed wire and cement blocks has prevented the access of
Palestinian farmers to their agricultural land.
2. Restrictions on the Movement of Palestinian Legislative Council Members
arbitrary measures taken by the Israeli occupation forces since the outbreak of
Al-Aqsa Intifada on September 28, 2000 have also affected the Palestinian
Legislative Council (PLC). For
approximately two months, the Israeli occupation authorities have prevented the
access of PLC members from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank to attend the
sessions of the PLC in Ramallah. PLC
members from the West Bank have also been denied access to the Gaza Strip to
attend the sessions of the PLC in Gaza City.
In addition, the Israeli occupation forces imposed restrictions on the
movement of PLC members inside the Gaza Strip.
the Palestinian parliamentary process has been paralyzed, as the PLC could not
hold its sessions periodically and in quorum.
PLC members were forced to hold separate sessions in Ramallah and Gaza
City on October 26 and November 6, 2000, in order to discuss the Israeli
aggression against the Palestinian people and the human rights abuses committed
against Palestinian civilians.
members hold VIP Cards, category B, which allow them to enter Israel and reach
the West Bank with no need to secure permission from the Israeli occupation
authorities. Despite this, these
Cards have not protected PLC members from arbitrary measures taken by the
Israeli occupation authorities. This is a blatant violation of the right to free movement and
a degradation of the simplest concept of immunity enjoyed by elected deputies.
Continued measures of this sort by the Israeli occupation forces threaten
the Palestinian parliamentary process.
3. Further Deterioration in Palestinian Health
health situation has deteriorated since the siege was imposed.
The Israeli occupation forces have continued to obstruct the entry of
trucks loaded with medicines and medical equipment into the Gaza Strip through
Rafah Border Crossing. In addition,
the Israeli occupation forces have continued to obstruct the transfer of the
Palestinian wounded to neighboring Arab countries.
Many Palestinian patients have been forced to wait for hours at Rafah
Border Crossing. This obstruction
has worsened the health condition of the wounded, especially as these patients
were critically or seriously wounded by the Israeli occupation forces.
Israeli occupation forces isolated the north of the Gaza Strip from the south
and imposed separate geographical areas through military roadblocks and closing
Salah El-Din Street (the main road between the north and south of the Gaza
Strip). As a result, physicians and
medicines could not reach hospitals in the south.
4. Continued Restrictions on Commercial Transactions
and outlets to the Gaza Strip have been closed by the Israeli occupation
authorities for commercial transactions. Although
the Israeli occupation authorities allowed the entry of some trucks loaded with
foodstuffs into the Gaza Strip through Al-Mentar (Karni) Outlet, the number of
these trucks was very limited and they entered under strict measures and
Israeli occupation forces also allowed the entry of fuel and gas into the Gaza
Strip after preventing it for several days during which time these materials ran
out. Palestinian official sources
stated that the amount of gas which entered the Gaza Strip in the past days has
not exceeded 1,000 tons. Meanwhile,
4,200 tons of gas, which were loaded on two ships coming from France for the
benefit of the Palestinian National Authority, were supposed to reach the Gaza
Strip. There is great uncertainty
as to what happened to all of the gas from France.
5. Further Deterioration of the Agricultural Sector
the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip continued, agricultural losses in the Gaza
Strip increased. The most significant measures taken by the Israeli occupation
authorities that negatively affect the agricultural sector in the Gaza Strip
Terrifying Palestinian farmers and preventing their access to their
agricultural land adjacent to points of contact with Israeli settlements
established on the lands of Palestinian citizens.
Leveling hundreds of donums of agricultural land and uprooting
Destroying agricultural facilities, including greenhouses, wells,
irrigation networks, etc.
Obstructing the access of farmers to agricultural services and
A shortage of agricultural resources and essential materials as a result
of continued closure.
Halting agricultural transportation between Palestinian areas, decreasing
marketing and lowering prices.
Suspending agricultural projects aimed at developing the Palestinian
to sources of the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture, the total siege imposed
on the occupied Palestinian territories by the Israeli occupation authorities
has resulted in large losses due to preventing the export of Palestinian
agricultural products. At this time
every year, daily export of vegetables and fruits is estimated at 450 tons, so
the loss resulting from the prevention of export of these products has been
about $6,750,000 in 60 days as the price of each ton is US$250.
a result of the total siege and the prevention of the export of agricultural
products, the prices of these products decreased in local markets to about
US$125 per ton. With the amount of
daily Palestinian agricultural products estimated at about 2,450 tons of
vegetables and fruits, of which the local community consumes about 2,000 tons,
the total loss resulting from the decrease of prices in local markets is
estimated at US$15,000,000 in 60 days (as the price of each ton is US$125).
addition, the Israeli occupation forces and groups of settlers attacked
Palestinian citizens, preventing many Palestinian farmers from irrigating and
cultivating their agricultural products. On
many occasions, these forces shot at Palestinian farmers to force them to leave
their land. Losses of olives in the
West Bank and the Gaza Strip are estimated at US$12,857,000 because Palestinian
farmers have been unable to cultivate this agricultural product in order to then
sell it. Furthermore, the Israeli
occupation forces swept large areas of agricultural land planted with olives.
continuing their aggression against the Palestinian people, the Israeli
occupation forces swept large areas of agricultural and wooded land owned by
Palestinian citizens throughout the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli occupation forces swept 2828.5 donums of agricultural and
wooded land in the Gaza Strip from September 28, 2000 until November 21, 2000.1
These forces also destroyed many agricultural facilities and a great deal of
animal production sector was significantly damaged due to a shortage of feed and
the non-access of veterinary services, which resulted in the death of a high
number of birds and animals. In
addition, many citizens could not graze their cattle due to the threat posed by
the Israeli occupation forces and settlers.
The animal production sector also suffered indirect losses due to the
decrease in prices of animal products and the weakness in buying capacity of
6. Further Deterioration in the Industrial Sector
in the industrial sector increase day by day because of the continued siege.
Although the Israeli occupation authorities partially reopened Al-Mentar
(Karni) Outlet, they have continued to impose strong restrictions on the export
of Palestinian products and the entry into the Gaza Strip of raw materials
necessary for Palestinian industry. Additionally,
many Palestinian laborers could not reach their work places due to the internal
closure imposed by the Israeli occupation forces on Palestinian cities and
villages. This has weakened the
process of marketing products and led to delays in meeting obligations of
report by the Palestinian Ministry of Industry on the daily losses of
professional industry in the Gaza Strip indicated that the daily losses to this
sector were US$368,000 as the production capacity decreased by 76 percent.
In addition, the percentage of unemployment in this particular sector was
57 percent, and this number is expected to increase as long as the Israeli
occupation forces continue to impose a total siege on the occupied Palestinian
addition, the Israeli occupation forces destroyed a number of Palestinian
factories as a part of its illegal policy of collective punishment against the
Palestinian people and their property. On
October 4, 2000, the Israeli occupation forces shelled an iron factory, owned by
a member of the Al-Aschi family, located at Al-Shuhada (Netzarim) Junction, to
the south of Gaza City. The
factory, with its machines and equipment, was destroyed.
On October 30, 2000, the Israeli occupation forces shelled a factory of
electrical tools, owned by the El-Souda family, near Al-Mentar (Karni) Outlet,
causing severe damage to the factory. On
November 20, the Israeli occupation forces and settlers attacked Metalco
aluminum factory, owned by members of the El-Rayyes and El-Ja’farawi families.
They destroyed the factory after they stole its machines and equipment.
A report by the Palestinian Ministry of Industry indicated that up to
November 25, 2000, 15 Palestinian factories in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
had been attacked by the Israeli occupation forces since the outbreak of clashes
between Palestinian civilians and the Israeli occupation forces.
addition to these losses, there have been indirect losses, including the
negative impact on the investment climate.
This will inevitably have a negative effect on future local and
international investment. Furthermore,
obligations of many Palestinian contracts reached with foreign countries were
not met. This will affect the
credibility of Palestinian producers and will force them to pay fines for the
7. Continued Denial of Laborers’ Access to Work Places
than 24,000 Palestinian laborers from the Gaza Strip are still denied access to
their work places inside Israel, as the Israeli occupation authorities have
continued to prevent such movement for more than two months.
In addition, on November 26, 2000, the Israeli occupation authorities
prevented the access of Palestinian laborers, working in the industrial zone in
Beit Hanoun, to their work places. Approximately
3,000 Palestinian laborers used to work in this industrial zone as blacksmiths
and carpenters and in the sewing business, etc.
Occupation authorities tightened their grip on these laborers in the past
few weeks through daily checks and through directing many questions at laborers.
In addition, thousands of laborers
have lost their work places in local factories because these factories have
stopped their work under the siege due to the lack of raw materials they get
through Israeli harbors. This has
led to a significant increase in the unemployment percentage – several sources
assert that the percentage of unemployment has increased to 50 percent and a
further increase is expected as long as the current siege on the occupied
Palestinian territories continues. A
continuation of the siege would lead to further deterioration in living
conditions and increase the poverty in the occupied Palestinian territories.
has almost completely stopped since the siege on the Gaza Strip was imposed.
Construction raw materials have not been allowed entry into the Gaza
Strip through Sofa Crossing. As a
result, construction in the Gaza Strip has almost completely stopped and
construction companies and thousands of laborers and engineers have been forced
to stop their work.
November 28, 2000, the Israeli occupation authorities allowed the entry of
650-700 tons of cement used in construction through Al-Mentar (Karni) Outlet.
Israeli trucks unloaded their cargo at the Outlet and then Palestinian
trucks transported it into the Gaza Strip.
According to Palestinian official sources, approximately 75,000 tons used
to be imported monthly into the Gaza Strip. Clearly, the amount of cement allowed into the Gaza Strip
does not meet the need.
9. Continued Denial of the Right of Access to Holy Sites
the total and extremely strict siege on the occupied Palestinian territories,
Palestinians, both Muslims and Christians, have been deprived of visiting the
holy sites in Jerusalem. On
November 27, 2000, the month of Ramadan (the month of fasting for Muslims)
started. In past years during this
month, Palestinian Muslims in the West Bank and Gaza Strip used to pray at Al-Aqsa
Mosque in Jerusalem. Currently, the
Israeli occupation forces are preventing the access of Muslims to the sacred
city for prayers there, in a violation of the right to free worship.
Israeli occupation forces have continued to impose a total siege on the occupied
Palestinian territories for a third consecutive month.
Contrary to the claims of the Israeli occupation forces that they have
eased the siege imposed on the occupied Palestinian territories, the siege has
continued to be strict. In
addition, Palestinian cities are still isolated from one another. Under the
siege, the suffering of the Palestinian people is ongoing.
Living conditions in the occupied Palestinian territories have
deteriorated on all levels as the impact of the siege affects all categories of
disapproves of the silence of states, governments and the international
community regarding the continued total siege imposed by the Israeli occupation
authorities on more than two million Palestinians living in the occupied
Palestinian territories. This is
part of a policy of collective punishment adopted by these authorities against
the Palestinian people and their property in blatant violation of all
international conventions and covenants.
regards the siege as a major reason for the ongoing tension in the region.
PCHR reiterates its call for the international community to immediately
intervene to put an end to the violations of human rights in the occupied
Palestinian territories by the Israeli occupation forces and for the
international community to ensure Israel’s compliance with international
Pressing Israel to lift the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and to halt
its excessive and disproportionate use of force against the Palestinian people
and their property.
Providing immediate medical and humanitarian assistance for the
Palestinian people whose living conditions have increasingly deteriorated under
Activating mechanisms of immediate intervention by the UN and its
agencies, and the ICRC, to ensure the access of medical and food assistance to
the occupied Palestinian territories under siege.
Obligating Israel to respect international conventions and to comply with
the UN Resolutions, especially 242 and 338, which call for a complete Israeli
withdrawal from the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967.
Taking effective steps to require Israel to respect human rights.
The European Union, under Article 2 of the Euro-Israel Association
Agreement, can insist that Israel respect human rights.
Closures of crossings since Al-Aqsa Intifada began
on September 29, 2000
on October 8, 2000
on November 14, 2000
October 2, 2000
October 10, 2000
November 19, 2000
8, 2000 – present
8, 2000 – present
on October 8, 2000
on October 12, 2000
on October 16, 2000
on November 8, 2000
Oct. 10 with reduced staff
October 15, 2000
October 19, 2000
November 20, 2000, and re-closed on the same day
on November 28, 2000
on October 8, 2000
on October 29, 2000
on November 8, 2000
October 15, 2000
November 6, 2000
on December 1, 2000
For more information, see the second report by PCHR on the sweeping
and demolition carried out by the Israeli occupation forces in the Gaza
Strip, published on November 26, 2000.