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Tightening of the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip

Al Mezan Center For Human Rights ***Physicians for Human Rights-Israel

Joint Press Release

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel condemn the tightening of the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip by the Israeli occupation forces

The Israeli military tightened the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, and Al Mentar (Karni) Crossing – the only trade passage for the Gaza Strip - is still closed since 15 January 2006.

The Israeli military claims that the closure of Karni Crossing is due to security threats.

It is important to mention that the Palestinians import many of their basic foods and fruits as well as other goods, and export their agricultural products like roses, strawberries, tomatoes and pepper through Karni gate.

Since the recent tightening of the closure by closing Karni Crossing, the Gaza Strip’s residents’ humanitarian predicament progressively increases from day to day; many basic foods have been consumed and are no longer available in the local market in the Gaza Strip, in addition to a drastic increase of prices of the remaining quantities of these basic goods.

Further, according to Al Mezan’s data, in the Gaza Strip there is a serious shortage of milk- a basic nutrient for children- and most milk products such as cheese and yogurt, in addition to rice, sugar and other basic nutrients.

Moreover, the Palestinian farmers are facing huge financial losses as a result of the spoiled agricultural crops intended for export. This will also diminish their ability to continue the process of planting their farms, leading to more economic loss.

The closure of Karni Crossing harms UNRWA’s attempts to offer aid to the Palestinians. UNRWA sources pointed out that there are more than 90 containers still stuck at the Israeli ports because of the closure and mentioned that UNRWA provides the Palestinian refugees extremely important humanitarian aid, such as cooking oil, sugar and flour as well as other basic foods. Palestinian families dependent on this aid are seriously affected.

Furthermore, the closure of Karni Crossing also harms the commerce sector in the Gaza Strip and results in huge financial losses. Around 80 truck of Palestinian goods normally pass through Karni from Gaza to the West Bank and Israel everyday.

Furthermore, the Palestinian health sector suffers a serious lack of medical supplies in general and a lack of solutions used for kidney wash for renal patients (dialysis); this threatens the lives of hundreds of these patients. Therefore, Dar Al Shifa hospital in Gaza city began to receive all renal patients from the other hospitals of the Gaza Strip. Today, after days of shortage, the Ministry of Health obtained a small quantity of these solutions from Al Maqased hospital in Jerusalem through Erez passage.

Notable that Karni passage is Gaza’s only commercial crossing, which was re-opened after the siege imposed by the IOF on 09/10/2000, and since that time, all passages and barriers work at less than the half of their capacities, while the commercial gates were closed in both Al `Awda (Rafah) Crossing and Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing.

Al Mezan Center and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel emphasize that the continuation of the siege and closure imposed on the Gaza strip, and the policy of tightening these closures economically and socially on the Palestinian civilians increases the unemployment and poverty, and harms any potential to improve the Palestinian economy.

In addition, the escalation of these measures negatively influences the health and lives of the Palestinian children in the Gaza strip.

Therefore, the Al-Mezan Center and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel call upon the international community to treat the Gaza Strip as an occupied territory; to guarantee the implementation of the Fourth Geneva convention, until the real termination of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories; to take prompt actions to stop the collective punishments imposed by the Israeli military against the Palestinians, in order to oblige the Israeli military to respect their commitments according to the convention, and to end the closure imposed on Gaza Strip which if continued will lead to a rise in the unemployment and poverty rates and worsen all aspects of life of the Gaza Strip’s residents

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