Overview- Key Issues
Update on Closure of Gaza Crossings
There was a slight increase in the number of goods allowed to enter Gaza in December compared to November. A total of 1,932 truckloads of goods, including 258 from humanitarian agencies entered Gaza compared to 1,813 in November. On 23 December, Sufa crossing, which was closed on 28 October, was re-opened for food and other commodities, though some exports had been allowed entry through Sufa prior to this on an ad hoc basis. Following an agreement between Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Hamas, Rafah crossing was re-opened briefly for the exit and return of 2,335 pilgrims en route to Mecca for pilgrimage (hajj). Another 920 were able to leave through Erez and Kerem Shalom, while a further 960 were allowed to leave via Erez and Allenby Bridge.1 Also, on 31 December and I January, 202 Palestinians stuck in Egypt were allowed to cross into Gaza via Nitzana and Erez. According to Gisha, an Israeli human rights group, 1,109 students and family members wanted to leave Gaza in December for study abroad, but only 484 were granted permission, leaving 625 behind. Of the 484 granted permission to leave, 19 were turned back by Israel and 82 by Egypt. (For more details on Gaza crossing points, see Access section herein).
Update on Fuel Shortages due to Israel’s Sanctions on the Gaza Strip
There was an increase in fuel imports in December but not enough to prevent the depletion of the emergency reserves of the Gaza Power Generating Company (GPGC), Gaza’s only power station, caused by sanctions imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip. Supplies of petrol increased from 45,000 liters per day in November to 51,000 in December, and diesel went from 190,000 liters per day to 250,000. Following Israel’s decision to reduce supplies of industrial gasoline on 28 October, deliveries fell from 300,000 to 241,500 liters per day. Consumption remained at 275-295,000 liters per day. The shortfall was made up from the emergency reserve of 3,000,000 liters.2 As temperatures fell in mid-December 2007, the GPGC was unable to meet the increased demand. Most Gazan families received no power from eight to 12 hours per week.
Drought in the Southern West Bank: Herders Hardest Hit
The southern and eastern parts of the Hebron governorate and the eastern Bethlehem governorate are suffering from another year of drought. According to information from the Directorate of Agriculture in Hebron, the amount of rainfall in Hebron city since the beginning of the rainy season (mid-November 2007) has reached only 90 millimetres (mlm). The normal amount for a good season would be 250 mlm. The southwestern Hebron governorate has received the least rainfall, with As Samu’ reportedly receiving 42.5 mlm and Adh Dhahiriya receiving only 39 mlm. (See graph, Rainfall in South Hebron since 15 November 2007, on p. 3 herein). The combination of drought and high fodder prices is making the livelihood of herders unsustainable. Some herders are selling all their sheep; once the breeding stock are sold, it is impossible for them to return to the herding lifestyle. Given their lack of other resources and alternative livelihood options, they are very likely to become dependent on aid. (For more details on the drought, see Regional Focus section herein.)