|Relative calm continues
There have been no reports of rocket firing by Palestinian armed groups or Israeli air strikes during this week. However, a number of incidents were recorded in the context of Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access on land and at sea, which have continued to affect access to livelihoods, but resulted in no injuries. In four incidents near the fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip Israeli forces fired warning shots at farmers, forcing them out of the area, detained three Palestinian civilians who were reportedly attempting to cross the fence illegally into Israel, and conducted one land leveling operation. On at least one occasion, Israeli naval forces opened fire at fishermen who were reportedly sailing near the 6 NM limit from the shore, forcing them to leave the area.
Ongoing fuel crisis raises humanitarian concerns
The quantities of fuel that entered the Gaza Strip have continued to decline for the second consecutive week due to the measures adopted by the Egyptian authorities to close down tunnel activities along Egypt’s border with Gaza. Tunnels are the main entry point for the transfer of fuel to the Gaza Strip, due to the lower prices in Egypt compared to Israel. It is estimated that this week approximately 30- 50,000 liters of fuel (mostly diesel) entered Gaza via tunnels per day, or around 10 percent of the amounts of fuel that entered before mid-June, when Egypt began closing tunnels. These amounts were the lowest recorded since August 2012.
The Ministry of Health in Gaza issued a statement on 2 July, saying that fuel reserves available in its hospitals have declined by 80 per cent over the past two weeks, raising concerns regarding the effective functioning of health services, and called for an immediate supply of fuel. Hospitals and other public services rely heavily on fuel to run backup generators due to the prolonged power cuts. The Gaza Power Plant was able to maintain operations at two-thirds of its capacity (120 megawatts) by drawing on its fuel reserves. Some private contractors have reportedly increased their purchase of fuel from Israel. Long queues of vehicles were also seen at fuel stations across the Gaza Strip.
The volume of construction materials entering through the tunnels declined to less than 1,000 tonnes a day during the week, compared to over 7,000 tonnes which entered each day through the tunnels in the past weeks. Towards the end of the week, the transfer of construction materials came to a complete halt and prices of available building materials increased by 50 per cent compared to prior mid-June levels.
Decline in number of travelers via Rafah
According to the Border and Crossing Authority in the Gaza Strip, the number of people who crossed daily into Egypt via Rafah Crossing this week declined by almost half; approximately 580 people crossed each day compared to a daily average of 1000 since beginning of the year. The decline might be attributed to the current unrest in Egypt. Rafah remains the sole passengers’ crossing to the outside world due to the restrictions on access via the Israeli-controlled Erez Crossing.