Under repressive occupation,
Military Orders govern virtually all aspects of life. Freedom is entirely
restricted. Police state authority runs Palestine.
Although Oslo called Palestine one territorial unit, Israel
maintains total control of people and goods movement in and out of
In June 1989, Israel began restricting free movement between Gaza
and Israel through magnetic ID cards not given former prisoners.
In 1991, Palestinians had to apply for personal exit permits. They
were required to enter or leave Palestine and how long they could
stay in Israel. Over time, numbers issued decreased.
In 1993, closure was imposed for the first time after Palestinians
allegedly killed several Israelis. In 1994, Israel began building a
fence separating Gaza from Israel. Checkpoints control people
traffic. Karni crossing controls goods in and out.
In late September 2000, after the second Intifada began, Israel
almost entirely prohibited Gazans from entering Israel or traveling
to West Bank locations. In 2001, a no-go buffer zone was
It prohibits Palestinians from entering areas up to two km inside
Gaza and beyond three nautical miles in their own waters. They're
recognized under international law up to 12 miles plus an additional
12 miles for partial control.
Moreover, an exclusive economic zone extends up to 200 miles.
Nonetheless, Palestinians venturing beyond three km or inside two km
on land risk being shot, including young children.
In 2004, Egypt built its own wall bordering Gaza. In 2005, Israel
disengaged from the Strip. Nonetheless, it maintains total control,
irrespective of agreed on terms.
After Hamas won the January 2006 legislative elections, people
traffic and goods restrictions were imposed. In June 2007, what's
called siege began. Though modestly eased, it remains in place.
Humanitarian missions try to breach it. Some do successfully. Others
forcefully interdicted don't.
February 7 marked the latest success when Miles of Smiles 9 arrived
through Egypt's Rafah Border Terminal. Dozens of participating
activists brought medical supplies, power generators for hospitals
and an ambulance.
Under health crisis conditions, medical supplies and equipment are
urgently needed. The ICRC says restrictions cause frequent shortages
of essential to life items. Ill patients with cancer, kidney
failure, and other diseases are severely impacted.
Intermittent power and voltage fluctuations exacerbate conditions.
As a result, lives are risked. Fourth Geneva mandates occupying
powers to ensure supplies of drugs and equipment for proper
treatment. Israel violates all international laws with impunity.
Israel's slow-motion genocide includes war, other violence, mass
incarcerations, torture, targeted killings, and deprivation of
essential to life items. Denying basic needs claims about 5,000
Palestinian lives annually.
Since 1967, hundreds of thousands died needlessly. Young children
below age five and the elderly are most affected. Silence is
complicity. World leaders do nothing to help. Conditions still
Gisha on Siege Conditions
The Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement reports regularly on
siege conditions. A February 6 update headlined, "(Limited)
Export(s) from Gaza, via Israel and the West Bank but not to them,
is allowed once again: this time tomatoes to Saudi Arabia," saying:
Limited amounts were approved. On February 6, three truckloads left
following long Kerem Shalom delays. Two days transit time was
estimated. Abu Safar Company sent them. Before mid-2007, it
regularly shipped hundreds of trucks of fruits and vegetable to the
West Bank, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Permission to send three truckloads to Saudi Arabia required a
complicated expensive process. Two truckloads of tomatoes arrived at
Kerem Shalom. They were unloaded and transported to a "sterile" area
between Israel and Gaza.
For shipment, crates had to be arranged in one layer, instead of
stacked. Another truck was needed to comply. Tomatoes experienced
unseasonably warm sun while waiting. Finally, three trucks were
loaded and ready. At Allenby Bridge crossing to Jordan, they were
again reprocessed and repackaged to fit in two refrigerated
Jordanian trucks for shipment to Saudi Arabia.
One Palestinian truck costs 500 shekels. For an Israeli one, it's
4,500 shekels. For one Jordanian refrigerated truck, it's 4,200
shekels. Abu Safer paid all fees plus an additional 6,000 shekels
for waiting all day at Kerem Shalom.
Total cost was 28,900 shekels (about $7,800), excluding labor. As a
result, the shipment lost money. Abu Safer won't likely try again
given Israel's imposed ordeal netting a loss.
On February 5, Gisha headlined, "How many Israeli work permits are
granted to Palestinians? No one knows," saying:
On January 16, 2011, a petition was filed to find out after
"requests made under the Freedom of Information Act to the
Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT)"
weren't answered for many months.
According to COGAT, 32,500 Palestinian worker permits are allowed.
According to the Population and Immigration Authority, it's 20,100.
Criteria for granting them aren't clear.
COGAT and Israel's Civil Administration provided some information
but not all requested. Moreover, new documents received contained
more contradictory information. As a result, a lawsuit may follow to
obtain what Israel's required to supply.
On January 25, Gisha got additional documents on procedures for
bringing limited amounts of construction materials into Gaza.
They're allowed only for humanitarian projects managed by
They're required to jump through bureaucratic hurdles to comply with
Israeli demands. Doing so greatly increases costs and causes undue
delays. Smuggling's more effective.
A Final Comment
A November 2011 Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
(OCHA) report documented the devastated state of Gaza's fishing
because of draconian Israeli restrictions imposed.
As a result, 3,097 fishermen are registered in Gaza today compared
to about 10,000 in 2000. Half those still active depend heavily on
sardine fishing. Because of restrictions, the catch declines
annually. In 2011, it reached is lowest level in 12 years.
Moreover, when OCHA published its report in November, it said Gaza
fishing catches overall would likely be the lowest on record. Expect
2012 to be worse.
The amount caught (437 tons) was less than one-fourth the 2006 -
2008 average. In addition, quality declined markedly. Richest areas
are from five to eight miles offshore. They're off-limits to Gazans
at risk of being arrested or shot, as well as having their vessels
Over-fishing within three miles depleted available stocks. As a
result, thousands no long fish. Their livelihoods are lost, as well
as those dependent on their enterprise. In addition, Gazans lost
most of their valued food source.
Israel acts lawlessly and oppressively. Siege effects exact an
enormous toll, including thousands of lives lost.
International law defines crimes against humanity. Israel's guilty
multiple times over. As a result, Gazan suffering continues without
World leaders yawn and ignore it. Others, like Washington, are
complicit with Israel enforcing life threatening policies.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
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