Published on October 29, 2000

 

CLOSURE UPDATE NO. 25

 

Report by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

on the Closure Imposed by Israel

on the Gaza Strip

 

This is the 25th in a series of updates published by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights on the closure imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip. This update documents the effects of the ongoing total siege that has been imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip since September 29, 2000. The Israeli occupying forces have also continued to isolate Jerusalem from the entire occupied Palestinian territories, denying the access of Palestinians to the city’s holy sites. In the Gaza Strip, the Israeli occupation forces extended the siege to include single cities and villages. On October 26, the Israeli occupation forces separated the southern part of the Gaza Strip from its northern part. Consequently, residents of the south (Khan Yunis and Rafah governates) were unable to return home from Gaza City. This action affected employees, students, families of the wounded and even the handicapped who receive services in Gaza City. The continued siege has negatively affected all aspects of life in the occupied Palestinian territories for the fourth consecutive week.

 

  1. Further Deterioration of the Economic Situation in the Gaza Strip:

Daily large losses in the Palestinian economy have consistently increased under the siege that has been imposed on the occupied Palestinian territories since September 29, 2000. This has resulted in further deterioration of the Palestinian economy on all levels – commercial, industrial, agricultural, etc.

 

    a)     Continued Prevention of the Gaza Strip’s Commercial Transactions:     b)     Continued Deterioration of the Industrial Sector:     c)     Continued Deterioration of the Agricultural Sector:

 

The agricultural suffers great damage under the total Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank for several reasons including:

The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture has estimated the loss of the agricultural sector in a report PCHR received at about $3.7 million daily. This means that the total loss has been more than $100 million since imposing the current siege. This does not even include the loss caused by destroying and damaging property and the imposition of taxes on Palestinian importers for imported goods blocked in Israeli harbors.

In the Gaza Strip, there are 17,000 hothouses. Planting each of these hothouses cost JD 1,500 this season and because of the current situation farmers cannot recover these costs.

 

    d)    Continued Denial of Laborers’ Access to Their Work Places:

The Israeli occupation authorities continue to deny the access of about 100,000 Palestinian laborers from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to their work places. More than 80 percent of the laborers who work inside the occupied Palestinian territories have been also negatively affected. The Palestinian Ministry of Labor has estimated the daily loss of labor at $6,500,000 (this number covers the loss of labor in Israel and inside the occupied Palestinian territories). The total loss since imposing the current siege has been $187,500,000, in addition to tax and health insurance collected from laborers by the Palestinian National Authority which is $5 million monthly.

The following table illustrates the losses that have affected the Palestinian economy in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank during the 30 days of closure and is based on reports published by the Palestinian Ministries of Economy and Labor:

Sector

 

Loss in millions

Labor

187.5

Agriculture

103

Transportation

5

Industry

60

Tourism

30

Trade

30

Imports

75

Total

490.5

 

    2.    Further Deterioration of Health in the Gaza Strip:

    The policy of the Israeli occupation authorities in imposing restrictions on the entry of medicines into the Gaza Strip has not changed. Dozens of patients are deprived of their right to get treatment outside the Gaza Strip.

    Palestinian Minister of Health Dr. Riadh El-Za’noun stated that several planes loaded with medicines, medical equipment and ambulances from Qatar and Saudi Arabia landed at Al-A’rish airport in Egypt because the Israeli occupation authorities denied their access to Gaza International Airport. The cargo was unloaded into stores near Al-A’rish airport. El-Za’noun added that two Saudi planes dedicated to transfer a number of the wounded in clashes with the Israeli occupation forces from hospitals in Gaza to hospitals in Saudi Arabia were forced to land at Al-A’rish airport as Gaza International Airport was closed by the Israeli occupation authorities.

    An official source of the Palestinian Ministry of Health stated that some Israeli hospitals dealt inhumanely with some Palestinian casualties transferred to those hospitals. In this context, a Gazan woman appealed to the Palestinian Minister of Health through local newspapers not to send any of the wounded to Israeli hospitals. She asserted that she received maltreatment when she accompanied her paralyzed nephew, Nasser Al-Rizi.

    On October 21, 2000, the Israeli occupation forces blocked an ambulance of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society that was transporting Mohammed Nasser Abu Zeid, seriously wounded in the chest, at Al-Krama border crossing (King Hussein Bridge) into Jordan. The Israeli occupying forces claimed that he was wanted.

    On October 25, 2000, the Israeli occupation forces prevented seven cancer patients from the Gaza Strip from traveling to Asota hospital in Israel for treatment. PCHR learned that these patients were receiving chemical treatment in the mentioned hospital twice a week.

    On October 27, the child Dheeb Ibrahim Al-Najjar, wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet in the head, was transferred from Shifa’ hospital in Gaza into a hospital in Jordan. The Israeli occupation forces allowed the travel of the child, but denied the travel of his father although the child is 13 years old and necessarily in need of an adult companion.

     

    3.    Continued Prevention of Visiting Prisoners:

    Despite the agreements signed between the Palestinians and the Israelis on the release of Palestinian prisoners, the Israeli occupation forces continue to detain thousands of Palestinian prisoners in their jails. These authorities have prevented families of these prisoners from visiting them in Israeli jails.

     

    4.    A Shortage of Foodstuffs:

    The Gaza Strip suffers a shortage of foodstuffs under the siege that has been imposed by the Israeli occupation authorities for the fourth consecutive week. Many basic goods, such as lentils, beans and some other legumes, have been lacking in commercial stores. The continued siege has also caused a relative shortage of wheat used in making flour. The Israeli occupation forces continue to prevent the entry of alimentary assistance. It is worth mentioning that dozens of trucks loaded with foodstuffs have been stopped at the Palestinian-Egyptian border and are awaiting permission for their entry into the Gaza Strip. In this context, the Palestinian Minister of Supplies warned of possible damage to these foodstuffs and held the Israeli occupation authorities responsible for this.

     

    5.    Continued Blockage of Visits to Holy Sites:

    More than one million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip have been deprived from exercising their right of worship, especially Muslims who could not visit Jerusalem on October 24, 2000, on the anniversary of Prophet Mohammed’s ascension to the seven heavens. More than 3,000 Christians have also been deprived from visiting the Christian holy sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

     

    6.    Complete Cessation of Construction Sector:

    Since imposing the current siege on the Gaza Strip no material entered the Gaza Strip either through Israel or through Rafah border crossing on the Palestinian-Egyptian borders. The Israeli occupation forces have continued to block cement cargo of three ships in the Israeli Ashdod harbor. This has resulted in the complete cessation of the construction of houses, mosques, institutions and other facilities.

     

    7.    Restrictions on Free Movement:

The Israeli occupation forces have continued to deny the right of Palestinian citizens to free movement throughout the areas under the control of the Palestinian National Authority. They have prevented movement between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. They have also continued to exercise provocative actions against Palestinian citizens in the Gaza Strip. They have positioned roadblocks between the cities of the Gaza Strip and have continued to check cars and citizens. They have confiscated some cars and firearms of members of Palestinian security services. The Israeli occupation forces have reinforced their presence on the main road between the north of the Gaza Strip and its south (Salah El-Din Street) at the following points:

  1. The entrance of a branch road leading to Morag settlement in the east and the entrance of a road leading to Gush Qatif settlement block (Rafah).
  2. Gush Qatif junction and the entrance to Kissufim (Khan Yunis).
  3. Near Kfar Darom settlement (the middle area of the Gaza Strip).

Under such measures, on October 26, 2000, the Israeli occupation forces separated the north of the Gaza Strip from its south. Citizens have not been able to move freely inside the Gaza Strip. In this context, the staff of Atfalona (Our Children) Society for the Deaf stated that the Israeli occupation forces denied some deaf children who receive the services of the society from returning to their homes despite the intervention of some international organizations. The Society was forced to transport these children to their relatives in Gaza City after consultation with their families.

 

 Conclusion:

The Israeli occupation authorities have imposed a total siege on the occupied Palestinian territories. The Palestinian people have increasingly suffered from the deterioration of living conditions. In the Gaza Strip, citizens face an unknown future. They are frustrated by the brutal actions, collective punishment and starving carried out by the Israeli occupation authorities on a premeditated basis.

PCHR warns of an economic, social, political and humanitarian disaster in the occupied Palestinian territories in light of the current total siege. PCHR believes that the policies adopted by the Israeli occupation authorities against the Palestinian people contradict all human rights conventions. PCHR calls upon the international human rights community to immediately intervene to lift this oppressive siege.