oPt

15 Years Too Long: Fact sheet on the devastating effects of Israel's closure and blockade on the Gaza Strip

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INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

On 6 June 1967, Israeli authorities declared the Gaza Strip a closed military area pursuant to a military order that remained in effect even after the signing of the Oslo Accords. Significantly, Israeli restrictions on the Gaza Strip have begun as early as the 1990s, by means of a series of measures taken by the Israeli authorities, including reducing the fishing zone in Palestinian territorial waters, preventing Palestinian workers from Gaza from working in Israel, and imposing restrictions on the movement of Palestinians through the Erez crossing.
With the outbreak of the Al Aqsa or Second Intifada on 28 September 2000, and particularly starting on 9 October 2000, Israeli forces declared and imposed a closure on the Gaza Strip and besieged the residential areas near the then-present Israeli settlements, such as the al-Mawasi and al-Syafa areas, closed the great majority of crossings, and altered the operation of some others. For instance, the cargo section of the Erez crossing was closed and the Sufa, Karni and Nahal Oz crossings were all closed and replaced by the Karem Abu Salem crossing, Gaza’s only commercial crossing. Also, before October 2000, the Rafah crossing—controlled by Israeli authorities until 2005—used to operate 24/7 and only closed two days a year.
However, since then, the crossing has operated for a limited number of hours and for a few days a week. There have also been periods when Rafah was closed for months.
When Hamas became the governing authority in the Gaza Strip in 2007, Israeli authorities tightened pre-existing closure measures, doubled restrictions on the freedom of movement and goods, and, on 21 June 2007, suspended Gaza’s Customs Code. Furthermore, on 18 September 2007, the Israeli Security Cabinet declared the Gaza Strip an ‘hostile/enemy entity’, thereby placing insurmountable obstacles to access to civil remedy in Israeli courts for Palestinians from Gaza.
Israel’s closure and blockade of the Gaza Strip, which constitutes collective punishment, prohibited under international humanitarian law, 1 is implemented in the context of Israel’s settler-colonial occupation of Palestinian territory (OPT) and its system of racial discrimination, domination, and oppression against the Palestinian people meeting the definition of apartheid under international law.