|Rafah crossing re-opened for humanitarian cases
On 29 and 30 April, the Egyptian authorities reopened Rafah Crossing in both directions for the entry and exit of humanitarian cases, including patients, students, and foreign passport and visa holders to third countries. Around 350 people entered Gaza and more than 1,600 left to Egypt and other countries. The crossing was last open for humanitarian cases between 29 and 31 March 2014; until the 29 April re-opening, the Egyptian authorities did not allow any Palestinians, including the four humanitarian categories, to cross into Egypt. The crossing was also open between 4 and 6 May, specifically for the exit and entry of pilgrims and Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side of the crossing. During these three days, approximately 808 people left Gaza on pilgrimage and 554 people entered Gaza, most of whom were pilgrims. According to the Border and Crossing Authority in Gaza, despite the two-day limited opening, at least 5,000 are registered to cross into Egypt, mainly medical patients, students and holders of visa to third countries. The registration office closed while many more were queuing to register.
Kerem Shalom Crossing closed due to Israeli holidays; power shortages continue
On 5 and 6 May, the Israeli authorities closed the Kerem Shalom Crossing, the only functional goods crossing between Gaza and Israel, due to Israeli holidays. On average, around 250 truckloads of goods including fuel, foods and medical supplies enter Gaza through Kerem Shalom every day. The impact of the closure of Kerem Shalom is exacerbated by the complete halt in the activity of the illegal tunnels between Egypt and Gaza, which were formerly used to smuggle construction materials for the private sector and subsidised Egyptian fuel. In addition to the shortage of fuel supply to the Gaza Power Plant (GPP), the closure of Kerem Shalom Crossing often leads to shortages of cooking gas and some food items such as dairy products and fruit among other essentials.
The (GPP) continues to run two turbines out of four, producing around 60 megawatts (MWs). Recent weeks have seen a decline in the volume of fuel entering Gaza for the GPP through Kerem Shalom crossing as a result of the crossing closure due to Israeli holidays; since the beginning of April, around 349,000 litres of fuel have been delivered to the GPP per day (on average) compared to around 510,000 litres delivered daily during the second half of December 2013, when the Qatari Government started funding fuel for the GPP. This decline is primarily due to administrative challenges in the purchase of fuel by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah (which received the Qatari donation and delivers the fuel to Gaza), compounded by the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing during the Jewish/Israeli holidays. The GPP needs at least 600,000 liters of fuel per day in order to run at full capacity and produce around 120 MWs. According to the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDCO), the schedule of power cuts is currently up to 12 hours per day, forcing people to rely on unsafe methods to light their houses. According to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, since 2012, 18 people, including 16 children and a woman, have been killed and 11 others, including 9 children injured in their houses in electricity-related incidents.