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Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
30 September 2007
Overview- Key Issues
Update on Continued Closure of Gaza Crossings
Access and Crossings
Rafah and Karni crossings remain closed after more than three months. The movement of goods via Gaza border crossings significantly declined in September compared to previous months. The average of 106 truckloads per day that was recorded between 19 June and 13 September has dropped to approximately 50 truckloads per day since mid-September. Sufa crossing (usually opened 5 days a week) was closed for 16 days in September, including 8 days for Israeli holidays, while Kerem Shalom was open only 14 days throughout the month. The Israeli Civil Liaison Administration reported that the reduction of working hours was due to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Jewish holidays and more importantly attacks on the crossings by Palestinian militants from inside Gaza.
Impact of Closure
As a result of the increased restrictions on Gaza border crossings, an increasing number of food items – including fruits, fresh meat and fish, frozen meat, frozen vegetables, chicken, powdered milk, dairy products, beverages and cooking oil – are experiencing shortages on the local market. The World Food Programme (WFP) has also reported significant increases in the costs of these items, due to increases in prices on the global market as well as due to restrictions on goods going into Gaza. In September, the price of one kg of fresh meat increased by 25%, while the price of chicken experienced a 50% increase.
Palestinians’ access to quality health care continues to be impacted by the closure. The only exit for Gazan patients referred for medical treatment outside the Gaza Strip is Erez checkpoint. During the last two weeks in September, 274 requests for permits to cross Erez, related to medical referrals, were submitted to the Israeli side. Of the 221 that were granted, only 192 actually crossed the checkpoint. This figure included patients and their accompanying companions. Additionally, WHO is concerned about a potential shortage of certain medical supplies. Currently, 61 drug items (13% of the essential drug list (EDL)) are out of stock and another 125 drug items (26% of the EDL) are at a stock rate of 2-3 months. (For more information on the impact of the closure on the health sector, see Health sector section herein)
Declaring Gaza a “Hostile Territory”
On 19 September, the Israeli government announced a series of proposed economic sanctions (including cutting power and fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip, and restricting operations at the Gaza crossings) in response to the continued indiscriminate firing of rockets and mortars by Palestinian militants. The Israel Electrical Company (IEC) provides over 60% of Gaza’s power supply, paid for by deductions from overdue Palestinian tax revenues that Israel withholds. In addition, the Gaza Power Station is completely reliant on fuel supplies from Israel, which are paid for by the EU through the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM), for the generation of its power. If the IEC ceased production and the heavy fuel was withheld from entering Gaza through Nahal Oz, the available power for the Gaza population would be reduced by 91%. Since fuel reserves held at the plant are minimal, any interruptions by the Israeli government to the flow of diesel would affect the Gazan population in less than 48 hours. Power outages and water cuts would be more prolonged and sustained than they are now.
Further restricting operations at Gaza crossings would represent complete imprisonment of the Gazan population and would quickly manifest itself in shortages of supplies in Gaza’s stores and supermarkets, not least because reserves and stocks are already minimal at this point. Commercial goods have represented 90% of the total quantity of products received since 19 June, with humanitarian assistance from international agencies accounting for less than 10%
. Preventing the import of commercial goods would lead to further contraction of the Gaza economy, particularly in the food retail sector. The international agencies do not have the resources and capacity to bridge the gap in the event of a halt in the flow of commercial stocks.
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