How to get from counting calories to adding jobs
We and many others have publicized information and analysis over the last week about the Red Lines presentation revealed to Gisha after a 3.5-year Freedom of Information battle with the Ministry of Defense.
Red lines understandably focused people’s attention on what was banned from entering Gaza as a result of Israel’s restrictions. This week, we want to draw your attention to what and who are being prevented from exiting Gaza under the current policy, in place since 2010.
Israel may no longer be counting calories, but the restrictions that remain – on movement of people and goods between Gaza and the West Bank and Israel – continue to hamper the ability of thousands of individuals to engage in dignified, productive work and thus feed and support themselves and their families.
Here are the facts:
- Private sector trade between Gaza and the West Bank and Israel, once Gaza’s lucrative markets, remains banned. Export to foreign countries is permitted, but demand and profitability are low.
- Since the start of 2012, an average of 19 truckloads of goods have exited Gaza per month, which is just 2% of what exited monthly before the start of the closure. Unsurprisingly, the agricultural and manufacturing industries cannot recover in these circumstances, and 28.4% of Gaza’s workforce remains unemployed.
- Over the past year (looking at the dates October 1, 2011– September 30, 2012 as in the infographic below), the ratio of incoming to outgoing goods was 191:1 (measured in average truckloads per month), whereas in 2005 that ratio was 13:1.
- Of the 285 truckloads that exited Gaza over the past year, only 24 were allowed to transit to the West Bank, in exceptional gestures to the World Food Programme and the Palestinian Authority, and 0 went to Israel.
- Israel still limits travel from Gaza to the West Bank and Israel to “exceptional humanitarian cases”. Around four thousand exits are recorded at Erez per month, which is less than 1% of the volume of people traveling in 2000.
During the course of our struggle to get the state to release the red lines presentation, Israel changed its policy vis-à-vis Gaza. It’s significant that food is no longer being restricted from entering Gaza. Thankfully we can move beyond a discussion solely about what gets in to Gaza and put the focus where it needs to be, on who and what can get out…or for that matter, not get out.k.