oPt

The Access Restricted Areas in the Gaza Strip: Update January-December 2011

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This update is issued by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) as coordinator of the Protection Cluster in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). It has been jointly prepared by members of the Protection Cluster Working Group in the Gaza Strip, including: UNICEF, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), Al Dameer Association for Human Rights, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, UNESCO, UN Mine Action Team (UNMAT) and the Emergency Water and Sanitation Hygiene Group (EWASH).

The violence surrounding the conflict in the Gaza Strip has affected scores of civilians in many different areas. This update highlights protection of civilian concerns in the Access Restricted Areas (ARA) in the Gaza Strip only – the sea and land areas in Gaza bordering Israel. It covers the period of January to December 2011.

  1. Overview of the situation

    Israeli authorities have continued to impose an illegal blockade on the Gaza Strip, placing physical and administrative restrictions on the movement of people and goods. This includes imposing a “buffer zone”, or an access restricted area (ARA) on land and sea. Restricted land includes the “no-go” zone, which covers the area between 0 - 500 metres from the Israeli fence where access is totally prohibited, and the “high risk” zone, which covers the area from 500 - 1,500 metres up to the fence. Along most of Gaza’s coast, the restricted area begins at three nautical miles (NM) from shore1.
    It is estimated that the ARA covers approximately 62.6 square kilometres - approximately 35% of Gaza’s cultivable land and 85% of Gaza’s maritime area – making these areas totally or partially inaccessible to Palestinians2. Various forms of violence continue to be used by Israeli Forces to enforce these restrictions including: airstrikes, incursions, land levelling operations, firing of warning shots and the targeting with live ammunition Palestinian civilians living and working in these areas. In addition, Palestinian armed groups use the ARA for carrying out various military activities against Israeli targets. The overall situation in the ARA continues to have a negative impact on Palestinian civilian life and property in the Gaza Strip and is limiting the provision and access to essential services such as education, health, shelter, water and sanitation.

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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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