|Israeli “warning shots” in the Access Restricted Areas (ARA) continue
Incidents involving Israeli forces opening fire into the Access Restricted Areas (ARA) on land and at sea continued on a daily basis, with at least 17 such incidents reported during the week, none of which led to injury. In at least two incidents, Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats reportedly sailing within the Israeli-declared six-nautical-mile fishing limit, forcing them ashore.
Access restrictions imposed by Israel at land and sea continue to undermine the security of Palestinians and the agricultural sector in Gaza, which is the primary source of income for thousands of farmers and fishermen and their families.
Palestinian infant died in a fire that erupted in an UNRWA collective centre
The Ministry of Health announced the death of a four-month-old infant in a fire that erupted in the UNRWA collective centre for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Beit Hanoun. The infant’s parents sustained injuries. An initial investigation suggests that the fire erupted as a result of an electrical malfunction. Over 10,000 Palestinian IDPs are currently hosted in UNRWA collective centers in difficult conditions. UNRWA reiterated that the issue of the safety and security of IDPS sheltering in its collective centres is a matter of paramount importance. The Agency has recently conducted fire safety training, including for collective centre staff in Beit Hanoun, and undertook a review of power grids in the collective centers to promote a safe environment within these centers.
Gaza temporarily suspends import of Israeli fruits
On 16 February the Minister of Agriculture in Gaza announced the temporary suspension of purchases of Israeli-produced fruits and their import into Gaza starting 18 February, in response to Israel’s halt on the transfer of Gaza strawberries into the West Bank.
On 1 February, the Israeli authorities suspended the commercial transfer of strawberries from Gaza to the West Bank. Previously on 6 January, Israeli authorities banned the transfer of strawberries from Gaza after claiming that they were found in Israeli markets without authorization. Palestinian merchants in Gaza have denied this claim. The Israeli authorities later agreed to allow one truck of strawberries per day (6-7 tons), into the West Bank; an arrangement which was eventually agreed to by the Palestinian authorities. The impact of the current situation on the profitability of Gaza’s strawberry production sector is expected to be significant, especially considering that export season to European markets is about to conclude.
Since the imposition of the blockade in June 2007, Israel has banned almost completely the exit of goods from Gaza to the West Bank and Israel, which were the main markets for Gaza products. On 6 November 2014, in the context of the understandings reached in the ceasefire agreement, Israel allowed the resumption of deliveries of limited agricultural products from Gaza to the West Bank.