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Israel continues to ban exit of goods from Gaza. Cancer patients exit in first since May 11

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The Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza halts sale of Israeli produce in Gaza in protest of the ongoing blanket ban on the exit of goods from the Strip. Israeli-imposed restrictions at Erez halt postal delivery to Gaza. Navy harassment of fishermen increases.

Israel continues to impose severe access restrictions at Gaza’s crossings. In the past week, only food, animal feed, humanitarian aid, medication, and fuel for international organizations was allowed to enter the Strip via Kerem Shalom Crossing. Israel’s ban the entry of fuel for Gaza’s power plant and on all exit of goods from Gaza is still in place.

The Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza announced today that it would halt the sale of Israeli produce in Gaza in protest of Israel’s ongoing blanket ban on the exit of goods from Gaza to be sold outside the Strip. The prohibition has exacerbated the harm to those working in farming and fishing and has flooded the local market with surplus produce and fish that cannot be sold for profit in the West Bank and Israel. Farmers and suppliers are forced to sell at a loss, or destroy their crops. For figures on the damage to Gaza’s farming and fishing sectors since May 11, see here.

According to information obtained by Gisha, today (June 3) was the first time since Israel closed Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings on May 11 that cancer patients were permitted to travel via Erez Crossing to access life-saving treatment that is unavailable in Gaza. Gisha and other organizations have repeatedly (Hebrew) warned that this policy is extremely unreasonable and puts lives at risk. According to reports, a throat cancer patient from Gaza died last week after his request to travel via Erez Crossing for treatment at Al-Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem was ignored by Israel.

The draconian restrictions imposed by Israel at Erez have also stopped mail delivery to and from Gaza. Among those harmed by the restriction are people waiting to receive their passports from foreign embassies in Israel, without which they cannot submit applications for travel permits even in humanitarian circumstances. This week Gisha sent a letter(Hebrew) to Israel’s Minister of Defense, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), and the Communication and Mail Staff Officer, demanding they lift the restriction on postal delivery given the severe violation of Gaza residents’ basic rights to property and dignity and the infringement on their livelihoods and family life.

Israel also continues to limit the fishing zone it enforces in Gaza’s sea space to a distance of up to six nautical miles off shore. Gaza fishing unions have reported incidents of violent harassment by the navy, including use of live fire, against fishermen even within this restricted area. In an urgent letter (Hebrew) Gisha sent the Minister of Defense, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories and the Military Advocate General, together with Adalah and Al Mezan, we demanded all restrictions on the Gaza fishing zone be lifted immediately, and navy harassment of fishermen cease.