Fifteen years ago, the Israeli authorities imposed a severe blockade on the Gaza Strip’s population of more than 2, 200,000 people in a geographical area of just 360 km.
Despite the demands of the international community and legal institutions for Israel to lift its comprehensive siege on the Gaza Strip, the former continues its collective punishment against the residents of Gaza. This has led to the deterioration of the humanitarian situation, whose repercussions have affected various sectors including the economic, agricultural, water, electricity, health care and education.
On the ground, the Israeli occupation absolutely controls the Gaza Strip’s crossings, especially the Karim Abu Salim commercial crossing, which is the only crossing specialised in importing and exporting. Accordingly, the occupation carries out inhumane extortion and restrictions against the citizens, as it prevents entry to many of the life necessities on the pretext that they have dual use, in addition to its impulsive closures and openings of the crossing.
In recent months, the Israeli occupation closed the Karim Abu Salim crossing completely during its recent aggression on the Gaza Strip, from 10 – 21 May of this year. After the aggression, the Israeli authorities deliberately reduced the volume of imports, as statistics indicated. The relevant authorities indicated that more than 650 trucks used to arrive daily at the Gaza Strip before the last aggression.
On the other hand, no more than 130 trucks per day are allowed to enter after the aggression. This has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip to the highest levels, especially since the occupation had deliberately caused complete damage to more than 200 industrial and commercial facilities during the onslaught.
Thousands of Palestinian families lost their homes as a result of the direct Israeli bombing of safe houses, and since the occupation prevents building materials from entering and obstructs reconstruction, the crisis lies not only in sheltering thousands of displaced families but also in directly prohibiting more than 30 professions that can stimulate the economy and alleviate the poverty and unemployment crises.
Additionally, the Israeli occupation intended in its recent aggression to target agricultural lands, hence the sector incurred heavy losses, as the statistics of the Ministry of Agriculture confirmed. More than 36,000 dunums of agricultural lands and greenhouses were directly damaged, in addition to extensive damage caused to dozens of poultry, animal and fish farms.
Although the figure of $200 million announced by the Ministry of Agriculture as direct losses as a result of the recent aggression is indeed of huge financial value, the policy of collective punishment pursued by the Israeli authorities towards the residents of Gaza is actually the most devastating.
After the last aggression ended, the Israeli occupation prevented exporting through the Karim Abu Salim crossing for more than 111 days, thus depriving citizens of promoting household furniture and clothing products as well as the export of their agricultural products, which constitute 90 per cent of exports from the Gaza Strip.
All told, Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip has exacerbated the economic and humanitarian crisis in the enclave and created countless problems. The unemployment rate, according to official statistics has reached 67 per cent while the poverty rate has exceeded 70 per cent. Food insecurity has hit 68.2 per cent of the total population, according to United Nations reports.
The continued suffering of the Palestinians in this way compels the international community to play its mandated role, to act urgently and effectively, in order to stop the escalating Israeli violations against the Palestinian people. Immediate and unconditional action is needed to end the oppressive siege as it constitutes a form of collective punishment of the civilian population and only further exacerbates Gaza’s economic and humanitarian crises.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.