Israel violates Gaza ceasefire nearly every day
- Gaza remains sealed. While the Israeli closure of all of Gaza’s other crossings remains in place, travel through the Rafah crossing with Egypt — the sole point of entry and exit for the vast majority of Gaza’s residents — has also been strangled. On Sunday, approximately 630 Palestinians left Gaza via Rafah after Cairo temporarily reopened the crossing — for only the second time in two months.
Travel via Rafah is limited to those seeking medical treatment or people holding permits to stay abroad; at the end of last month, there were an estimated thirty thousand people waiting to exit Gaza via Rafah. Amongst them were one thousand patients who include “those with advanced cancer, renal and heart diseases, and orthopedic and ophthalmological needs,” according to the United Nations monitoring group OCHA.
- Construction materials are not allowed in to Gaza. Though $5.4 billion was pledged at a donors conference in Cairo in October, “reconstruction of Gaza has barely begun” and “even fewer construction materials are now entering Gaza than before the conflict,” according to the humanitarian group Oxfam. Despite the massive scale of destruction — it is estimated that Israel dropped the equivalent of an atomic bomb on Gaza this summer — only one percent of the estimated five million tons of construction materials required have been allowed in to Gaza. “At this rate it would take more than 23 years to meet ‘immediate’ needs alone,” states Oxfam.
- Exports are not allowed out of Gaza. Only a trickle of exports from Gaza are allowed through the Israeli-controlled commercial crossings each month. Before the blockade was imposed in May 2007, an average of 240 truckloads of exports left Gaza each week. So far this year, an average of only two truckloads of exports have been allowed out of Gaza each week. Though the Israeli government announced an easing of export restrictions in October, the reality is that the total number of trucks of exports allowed out of Gaza so far this year is about only half of the weekly average before the siege, according to data compiled from OCHA’s weekly reporting.
- Gaza is under constant Israeli fire. The Israeli military, which monitors movement in the area of the boundary fence, uses deadly force against any Palestinians who dare approach the perimeters of the Gaza open-air prison, where much of the most fertile farmland is located.
Though the August ceasefire deal stipulated that Palestinians would have increased access to the perimeter areas, Israel has “so far not officially announced the boundaries of what they consider a restricted area, thus generating uncertainty and increasing the risks to the civilian population,” states OCHA. “Field observations suggest that areas within 100 meters from the fence are largely inaccessible, while access to areas several hundred meters beyond this distance is risky.” Meanwhile, access to fishing waters “is restricted to six nautical miles from the coast.”
Indeed, Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinians in the “access restricted areas” on a daily basis the week of 9-15 December (the last week of available data from OCHA), resulting in the injury of four civilians. Twenty incidents of Israeli fire were recorded the week before that and an average of two incidents per day during the last week of November. One Palestinian civilian was killed and a seventeen-year-old boy was critically wounded by Israeli fire in the perimeter area last month, in the most serious of such incidents.
Oxfam data show that approximately fifteen rockets have been fired from Gaza since the August ceasefire, including “test rockets” fired toward the sea. During that same period, there were about 45 incidents of Israeli naval fire, 35 incidents of Israeli border fire, and about a half-dozen army incursions into Gaza. Israel has fired on Palestinians in Gaza on almost a daily basis since the ceasefire. Six Palestinians were shot during a protest earlier the same day that Israel bombed Gaza “in response” — as the BBC put it — to a rocket fired from Gaza which landed in an open field, causing no injuries.
The mechanism gives Israeli occupation authorities access to Palestinian families’ personal information on UN databases, effectively turning the UN into the enforcer and partner of Israel’s Gaza siege.
The deal, brokered and championed by UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry, capitulated ultimate control of reconstruction to Israel while doing nothing for people in Gaza.