On Tuesday morning, 2 August 2022, Israeli authorities unexpectedly closed both Erez and Karem Abu Salem crossings. Al Mezan is particularly concerned about the repercussions brought about by this decision, which will further exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.
According to the Palestinian General Authority of Civil Affairs, on 2 August, dozens of medical patients were supposed to leave the Gaza Strip via Erez today to receive medical treatment at health facilities in the West Bank. The closure of the crossing denied Gaza patients from receiving life-saving treatment, putting their lives at risk.
Moreover, the closure of Karem Abu Salem—the only commercial crossing in Gaza that itself hardly meets the needs of more than two million people living in the Strip—would further affect Gaza residents. The closure of the crossing will affect fuel supplies, particularly that intended for the operation of Gaza’s only power plant. It should be noted that recently the electricity supply has not exceeded eight hours, followed by eight hours of interruption. An even more severe fuel crisis would negatively impact people’s lives, the work of hospitals and municipalities, access to drinking water, and the operation of sewage treatment plants.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are enduring an unprecedented deterioration in humanitarian and living conditions due to the closure and blockade imposed by Israel for more than 15 consecutive years. Israel’s policies of collective punishment have crippled all aspects of life in Gaza and affected the human rights conditions, particularly the economic, social and cultural rights, basic services, healthcare, electricity, water and sanitation, and exacerbated already high rates of poverty, unemployment and food insecurity, which have reached alarming levels.
Accordingly, Al Mezan is gravely concerned about the closure of Gaza crossings, especially considering the acute shortage of basic services and humanitarian supplies due to years of Israeli policies comprising of an unlawful closure and collective punishment, repeated full-scale military attacks, and daily human rights violations. At the very least, crossings must remain fully and permanently open to meet the essential daily needs of the people of Gaza.
Al Mezan calls on the international community—including the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Geneva Conventions—to uphold their moral and legal obligations vis-à-vis the protected Palestinian people, to promptly work on protecting Palestinian civilians, and to pressure Israel to stop its continuous violations against Palestinians and lift the blockade and closure against Gaza, which constitute forms of persecution and collective punishment that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the crime of apartheid.