|Substantive reduced activities at tunnel
In the context of the ongoing unrest across Egypt, including recurrent attacks and armed clashes in the Sinai Peninsula, the Egyptian authorities have continued measures aimed at shutting down the tunnels under the border with the Gaza Strip. The destruction of tunnels and restrictions on access to them undertaken by the Egyptian authorities in previous weeks have resulted in serious shortages of fuel and basic building materials in the markets in Gaza: in recent years, the tunnels have become the primary entry point for these items due to severe restrictions on imports of construction materials from Israel via official crossings and the high cost of fuel available from Israel.
A few tunnels partially resumed operations, resulting in a slight increase in the volume goods transferred into the Gaza Strip. Local sources in Gaza reported that since 11 July a daily average of over 700,000 liters of diesel and 70,000 liters of petrol have entered via the tunnels. These amounts remain below the quantities transferred before the Egyptian measures against tunnels began almost three weeks ago (800,000 liters of diesel and 200,000 litres of petrol) and there remain serious shortages inside the Gaza Strip.
Over half of this week’s consignments of diesel through the tunnels were allocated to the Gaza Power Plant (GPP), enabling it to maintain its fuel reserves. The GPP has been able to keep operating three of four turbines, producing around two-thirds of its full capacity (80 out of 120 megawatts). The remaining amounts of diesel were rationed by the local authorities to support basic services, including hospitals (which rely on fuel to run backup generators due to the shortage of electricity) and water and wastewater systems. Shortages of petrol, which is entering in much lower quantities than diesel, resulted in long queues of vehicles at fuel stations across the Gaza Strip.
The transfer of limited amounts of construction materials resumed this week after a complete halt in their delivery during the previous two weeks. On average 800-1,000 tonnes of construction materials including cement and aggregates have been entering each day during the week, one-seventh of the amounts prior to recent events. The renewed supply led to a noticeable decline in the prices of such materials. Due to the ongoing shortage of building materials however, the construction of 1,700-2,000 housing units and approximately 90 per cent of municipal infrastructure building projects have been halted.
Rafah Crossing partially re-opened
After a complete closure of the Rafah Crossing for five days by the Egyptian authorities citing security concerns, it was partially re-opened on 10 July – operating for four hours compared to the previous standard of nine hours per day. Travel of passengers was restricted to foreign Arab nationals, authorized Palestinians holding dual nationalities and a limited number of
Palestinians referred for medical treatment. On average, 400 people crossed from the Gaza Strip to Egypt and around 800 people crossed from Egypt to the Gaza Strip per day since 10 July. The limitation of operations at the crossing affects access for thousands of Palestinians wishing to return or enter Gaza. Currently, Palestinians traveling via Cairo are not allowed to board planes.
The Rafah Crossing is the primary exit and entry point to the Gaza Strip for Palestinians – movement across the Erez Crossing in northern Gaza Strip has been severely restricted since September 2000.