Palestinian Territories - An urgent letter was sent today by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor to the EU ambassadors to the Palestinian territories. The letter warns against Israeli Prime Minister’s recent decision to close the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing and to further tighten Gaza’s blockade by imposing new restrictions on the civilian population trapped in the tiny strip of land.
In light of the established circumstances, the only result to this closure is a severe humanitarian crisis leaving the population on the brink of an explosion within a short time, especially that Netanyahu also decided to further limit the fishing area allowed for Gaza’s fishermen.
These Israeli measures will further cripple Gaza’s already collapsing economy. They will also thwart any attempts by the international community to support the private sector in the Strip.
With exports and imports put on hold, tens of thousands of Gazans will lose their income at a time when Gaza's unemployment rate stands as the highest in the world.
In addition, some 4,000 economic establishments are expected to shut down as a result of the closure of the commercial crossing. The number of people dependent on receiving humanitarian aid will also increase to over 90%, while food insecurity will rise to unprecedented levels.
As an Occupying Power, Israel is responsible for protecting Gaza’s civilian population. Instead, Israel has been imposing a stifling blockade, practicing an unprecedented form of collective punishment against the civilian population in Gaza.
The closure of the only commercial crossing to the occupied territory will affect all aspect of Gaza’s life, including all vital sectors and infrastructure. In particular, Gaza’s health sector has failed to cope with the humanitarian crisis, rendering 60% of basic medical services undeliverable Gaza’s patients.
The Israeli authorities not only restrict the entry of basic goods and life-saving equipment, but also deprive the larger segment of the population of their right to travel and move freely.
By severely restricting movement through Erez Crossing, the only crossing for the movement of individuals to and from the occupied territory, tens of thousands of patients remain trapped in Gaza as Gaza’s main hospitals have lost about 60% of essential medicine and medical supplies. Hundreds of patients have already lost their lives while waiting to receive treatment outside Gaza.
Prime Minister Netanyahu recently announced punitive measures against the Gaza Strip in response to the continued flying of burning kites by Palestinian protesters along the fence separating Gaza from Israel, causing fires in large areas of Israel’s agricultural lands.
The Israeli authorities are practicing collective punishment against 2 million citizens as a response to the few dozens flying kites at the fence. Starving the civilian population and denying them basic needs cannot be justified, especially under Gaza’s unlivable conditions.
By further reducing Gaza’s fishing area to six nautical miles, Israel deprives the civilian population of another lifeline, which constitutes a crime and a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory.
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor calls on all EU ambassadors to Israel and the Palestinian territories to help end these punitive measures by Israel, and to work on ensuring that basic needs and services are provided to Gaza’s two million population, and also to help facilitate the movement of people and goods to and from the tiny enclave.
Euro-Med Monitor also urges the international community to consider Gaza a disaster area, given the serious consequences of the 12-year Israeli blockade. EU ambassadors must hold an urgent meeting to discuss the serious repercussions of the new Israeli restrictions.
Euro-Med Monitor further stresses the need for immediate and serious action to promptly end the humanitarian suffering in Gaza and to resolve its multiple crises, especially those related to basic services, such as electricity, safe drinking water and infrastructure.