Humanitarian Bulletin Monthly Report April 2014
● Increased shortages of essential items in the Gaza Strip due to the closure of the single commercial crossing on Jewish holidays and following rocket firing.
● Extensive areas in the Bethlehem governorate seized by the Israeli authorities for settlement expansion.
● Increased concern over the potential forcible transfer of Bedouin communities around the E1 area, to the east of Jerusalem.
Gaza crossings must remain open continuously
This month, on the occasion of Passover (the Feast of Freedom), the Israeli authorities closed the Kerem Shalom crossing, the single conduit for the entry and exit of goods to and from Gaza, for four days. The crossing was also partially closed on three additional days during the month in response to the firing of rockets at southern Israel by Palestinian armed groups, in addition to the closure on Fridays and Saturdays.
As a result, the volume of goods that entered Gaza during April was the lowest recorded since October 2011, leading to shortages of some essential items, including dairy products and fruits. The closures also exacerbated the pre-existing shortages of fuel, cooking gas and construction materials. The main reason for the shortage of building materials is Israel’s longstanding import restrictions in the context of the blockade. This situation has worsened since July 2013 following the halt in the smuggling of building materials from Egypt via the tunnels, driving a steep increase in the unemployment rate to the highest level in four years – 43 per cent (relaxed definition) in the first quarter of 2014. On a positive note, towards the end of April the Israeli authorities announced that most international projects requiring the import of construction materials, including UN projects, would be allowed to resume.