Blockade of the Gaza Strip – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted By on July 16, 2015

The blockades of the Gaza Strip refers to a land, air, and sea blockade on the Gaza Strip by Israel from 2007 to present. Egypt has also kept its border with Gaza mostly sealed. After the 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip by Israel, in 2006, Hamas won the Palestinian legislative election, triggering the 200607 economic sanctions against the Palestinian National Authority by Israel and the Quartet on the Middle East after Hamas refused to quit violence, respect previous agreements and recognize Israel.[1] In March 2007, Hamas and Fatah formed a Palestinian authority national unity government headed by Ismail Haniya. Shortly after, in June, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in the course of the Battle of Gaza,[2] seizing government institutions and replacing Fatah and other government officials with its own.[3] Following the takeover, Egypt and Israel largely sealed their border crossings with Gaza, on the grounds that Fatah had fled and was no longer providing security on the Palestinian side.[4]

Israel maintains that the blockade is necessary to limit Palestinian rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip on its cities and to prevent Hamas from obtaining other weapons.[5][6][7] Prior to its 2011 opening of the Rafah crossing, Egypt maintained that it could not fully open its side of the border since completely opening the border would represent Egyptian recognition of the Hamas control of Gaza, undermine the legitimacy of the Palestinian National Authority and consecrate the split between Gaza and the West Bank.[8]

Facing mounting international calls to ease or lift their blockade in response to the Gaza flotilla raid, Egypt and Israel lessened the restrictions starting in June 2010. Israel announced that it will allow all strictly civilian goods into Gaza while preventing certain weapons and what it designates as "dual-use" items from entering Gaza.[9] Egypt partly opened the Rafah border crossing from Egypt to Gaza, primarily for people, but not for supplies, to go through.[10] The Israeli NGO Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement reported in a July 2010 publication[11] that Israel continues to prevent normal functioning of the Gazan economy. Israel continues to severely restrict and/or prevent people from entering or exiting Gaza according to Gisha.[12][13][14] The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) conducted an assessment of the humanitarian impact of the easing of the blockage in January and February 2011 and concluded that they did not result in a significant improvement in peoples livelihoods.[15] The World Bank estimated in 2015 that the GDP losses caused by the blockade since 2007 was above 50%, and entailed large welfare losses.

Egypt for some time opened the Rafah border crossing permanently as of 28 May 2011. A limited number of women of all ages and men aged below 18 and above 40 were able to enter Egypt without a visa,[16] although there are still severe restrictions on the movement of personnel and goods to and from Gaza.[17][18] Following the 2013 Egyptian coup d'tat, Egypt's military has destroyed most of the 1,200 tunnels which are used for smuggling food, weapons and other goods to Gaza.[19] After the August 2013 Rabaa Massacre in Egypt, the border crossing was closed 'indefinitely'.[20]

The blockade has been criticized by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Human Rights Council[21][22] and other human rights organizations, a criticism that has been officially supported by United States administrations.[23] In June 2010 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the humanitarian needs in the Hamas-controlled area must be met along with legitimate Israeli security concerns.[24]

Most[citation needed] of the international institutions consider the blockade illegal. In September 2011, the Chair and Vice-Chair of a UN Panel of Inquiry concluded in the Palmer Report that the naval blockade was legal, based on the right of self-defense during a period of war, and had to be judged isolated from the restrictions on goods reaching Gaza via the land crossings. Concerning the restrictions on goods reaching Gaza via the land crossings the Palmer report stated that they were "a significant cause" of Gaza's unsustainable and unacceptable humanitarian situation.[25][26][27] A Fact-Finding Mission for the UN Human Rights Council (2009) chaired by Richard Goldstone, a former judge of the International Criminal Court, as well as a panel of five independent U.N. rights experts[who?] concluded that the blockade constituted collective punishment of the population of Gaza and was therefore unlawful.[28][29] UN envoy Desmond Tutu, United Nations Human Rights Council head Navi Pillay, the International Committee of the Red Cross and some experts on international law[30] consider the blockade illegal.[31][32][33][34][35]

Since June 1989, Israel has formally restricted the movement of Palestinians, imposing a magnetic-card system whereby only those with such a card were allowed to leave the Strip: Israeli authorities did not issue magnetic cards to released prisoners, former administrative detainees, or people who had been detained and released without charges being filed against them.[36] January 1991 marked the beginning of the permanent closure policy, whereby each resident of Gaza who desired to travel within Israel or the West Bank was required to have a personal exit permit.[36] In March 1993, Israel imposed an overall closure on Gaza with newly built checkpoints; and, from October 2000, Israel imposed a comprehensive closure on the Gaza Strip.[36]

When the Al-Aqsa Intifada broke out in September 2000 Israel put trade restrictions on the Gaza Strip and closed the Gaza International Airport. The economic effects worsened after the creation of a buffer zone in September 2001, that would seal all entry and exit points in the Palestinian Territories for "security reasons." After 9 October 2001, movement of people and goods across the Green Line dividing the West Bank from Israel, and between the Gaza Strip and Israel, was halted, and a complete internal closure was effected on 14 November 2001.[37] The worsening economic and humanitarian situation raised great concern abroad. According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in January 2003, the Israeli blockade and closures had pushed the Palestinian economy into a stage of de-development and drained as much as US $2.4billion out of the economy of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.[38]

The Israel Defense Forces left the Gaza Strip on 1 September 2005 as part of Israel's unilateral disengagement plan. An "Agreement on Movement and Access" (AMA) between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was concluded in November 2005 to improve Palestinian freedom of movement and economic activity in the Gaza Strip. Under its terms, the Rafah crossing with Egypt was to be reopened, with transits monitored by the Palestinian National Authority and the European Union. Only people with Palestinian ID, or foreign nationals, by exception, in certain categories, subject to Israeli oversight, were permitted to cross in and out.[39][40]

The 20062007 economic sanctions against the Palestinian National Authority were economic sanctions imposed by Israel and the Quartet on the Middle East against the Palestinian National Authority and the Palestinian territories following the January 2006 legislative elections that brought Hamas to power.[41] The sanctions were imposed after Hamas refused to renounce violence, to respect previous agreements and to recognize the State of Israel.[1] In March 2007, the Palestinian Legislative Council established a national unity government, with 83 representatives voting in favor and three against. Government ministers were sworn in by Mahmoud Abbas, the chairman on the Palestinian Authority, in a ceremony held simultaneously in Gaza and Ramallah.

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