There is no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and no shortage of basic goods. Israel does not limit the amount of goods passing into the Gaza Strip; the amount of goods passing through each day reflects the needs of the Gaza market.
(Bureau for Middle Eastern Economic Affairs, Israel MFA; based on data from COGAT)
1. There is no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and no shortage of basic goods. Despite Egyptian efforts to close the tunnels, which began in mid-June, a considerable number of the tunnels are still operative and smuggling of goods, fuels and construction materials continues, although on a reduced scale. The Egyptians allow Rafah crossing (Egypt to Gaza Strip) to remain open only for people to cross, with certain limitations.
2. Crossing Points (Israel – Gaza Strip):
A. Kerem Shalom (goods crossing):
Kerem Shalom is open as usual. The crossing’s capacity (400-450 trucks daily) is significantly greater than the actual use. The number of trucks passing through the crossing daily has increased slightly in recent weeks although, with the exception of a few peak days in which 350-360 trucks passed, the daily average is stable at about 300-350 trucks a day, and sometimes even less. This evidently reflects the reduced but ongoing smuggling from Sinai via the tunnels, and the reduced economic activity due to Ramadan. In May there was a rise in the number of trucks entering the Gaza Strip – a total of 5439 trucks that month. In June there were less – 4967 trucks.
Egyptian efforts to reduce the tunnel activities is reflected in a certain increase in the amount of goods that pass through Kerem Shalom, and in the renewal of fuel purchases from Israel (for the Gaza power station and for transportation), in the wake of a decrease in available (subsidized) fuel from Egypt. These efforts have also had a negative impact on the availability of building inputs in the local market.
It should be reiterated that Israel does not limit the amount of goods passing into the Gaza Strip; the amount of goods passing through each day reflects the needs of the Gaza market. In the past few weeks there was a 30% increase in imported food stuffs from Israel (which is supplied without any difficulty).
In general, Israel prohibits the entry of equipment and materials defined as dual-use, as well as construction materials for the private sector in the Gaza Strip, although following Operation Pillar of Defense Israel began allowing the import of 20 cement trucks daily for use by the private sector. The decrease in the price of cement in Gaza from NIS 1000 a ton a couple of weeks ago to NIS 450 (the lowest price this year was NIS 300/ton) indicates its ready availability. At the same time, regular transfers of building materials from Israel for projects in Gaza sponsored by the international community continue.
In the past month the Palestinians have renewed purchase of fuels from Israel for the Gaza power station and for transportation needs. The fuels are transferred to the Gaza Strip via the existing infrastructure at Kerem Shalom. The fuels are purchased by Gazan dealers from Israeli fuel companies. Israel does not limit the amount of fuel transferred to the Gaza Strip. The amount and the frequency reflect market needs. The fuel purchased from Israel is more expensive than the (subsidized) fuel smuggled from Egypt.
Exports from Gaza:
According to the Israeli policy set at the end of 2010, exports from the Gaza Strip are permitted only to markets abroad (not to Israel or to the West Bank) and are transferred via the Kerem Shalom Crossing. About 320 tons of agricultural produce were exported from Gaza from January through May 2013, in addition to 2.2 million flowers. On the Gaza side a security scanner was installed, in order to ease exports from the Gaza Strip.
B. Erez Crossing (crossing for people):
Erez Crossing is open as usual and serves as a passage point for people: representatives of international organizations, diplomats, Gazan citizens who need to cross for humanitarian reasons (patients and their escorts traveling for medical treatment to Israel or to the West Bank), and 120 people a day who are issued permits to exit the Gaza Strip for business purposes, passing through on their way to Israel, the West Bank or abroad.
In June 2013, 5777 Palestinians passed through the Erez Crossing.
3. International community projects in the Gaza Strip:
In the past three years, Israel has approved 261 projects sponsored by the international community in the Gaza Strip. The projects involve a broad spectrum of fields such as water and sewage, clinics, building and renovating schools, housing, roads, agriculture, and others. Eighty-one of them are in some stage of construction and receive ongoing supplies via Israel.
4. Shooting on Israel and lessons learned from Pillar of Defense:
Between January and June 2013, 25 rockets were launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip, in addition to mortar bombs.
After Operation Pillar of Defense, as part of the agreements with Egypt, Israel approved the expansion of the sea fishing area from 3 to 6 miles; the daily entry of 20 truckloads of aggregates for the private construction sector; the one-time entry of 60 heavy vehicles; narrowing the perimeter (the strip adjacent to the fence) from 300 meters to 100 meters; and permission was granted for farmers to have access to that strip to farm it.
Israel refurbished and upgraded the “Grizim” underground electrical line that supplies electricity to the Gaza Strip (one of ten lines that supply electricity from Israel to the Gaza Strip).
In the first quarter of 2013, unemployment in the Gaza Strip stood at 31% (39.4% among the 25-29 age group; 58% among the 20-24 age group; 47.7% among the 15-19 age group) (according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics).