Allowed and prohibited Goods … Terminals besieging GAZA
Throughout the years of a long and continuous siege on the Gaza Strip, “Israel” used to more than one strategy to control the population and break their will and resilience. It waged numerous wars, tightened the screws on the people, and deprived the Strip from the basics of a decent life. However, the most prominent feature that has been extended throughout these years in an attempt to control and subjugate the Strip, was the “lung of the Strip”, that is, THE CROSSINGS.
“Israel” opens the crossings sometimes, and closes them at other times. They do a very restrictive procedures on the quality and type of goods that enter the Gaza Strip several times, and other times they flip and flood the Strip with goods again.
Farmers are informed that they can export strawberries, for example, and after they allocate their own dunams according to the Israeli decision, the crossing is closed and the export is prohibited.
This article attempts to trace the changes that took place in the Israeli policy of imposing THIS siege on Gaza through the crossings play-plan. Explains the mechanism of operation in the crossings as defined by “Israel”, and the interactions that affected and were affected by, and divides it into three stages.
How many calories does a GAZAN need for not to die ???
After the beginning the direct and final blockade on the Gaza Strip, Israel declared in September 2007 that the Gaza Strip was a “hostile entity.” As a result, “Israel” deprived the residents in the Strip of the basic necessities for living, and allowed ONLY a few things for survival. They reduced the supply of electricity to the Strip and power was provided for hospitals and similar clinics and also for part time and according to a schedule. Israel reduced the amount of fuel entering the Strip, which caused a severe fuel crisis. They also prevented any transferal of money, closed commercial crossings, and, at best, limited two days a week to bring in a certain number of trucks and a certain type of goods.
That is to mention, “Israel” wanted to starve the residents of the Strip in order for the resistance to subjugate. To ensure this with “accurate calculations,” the “Office for the Coordination of Government Activities,” affiliated with the Israeli Ministry of Defense, made a calculation of the number of calories a Palestinian in Gaza needed to starve, but not to die, as of they decided, as indicated in the “red lines” document, “Israel” considered that an individual needs 2,279 calories per day, which are found in 1836 grams of food-items.
According to this calculation, 170.4 trucks were allowed into the Gaza Strip, five days a week. Israel then reduced this to 101.8 trucks per week, and stated that the difference between the two quantities is equal to the food products of local manufacture. Then there were directions to reduce 13 additional trucks, and other plans of reducing the number of truck, but raise the truckloads.
Thus, the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip in its first phase (2007-2010) followed a policy of starvation of people. A policy that saw the Palestinians as mere calories that should be controlled in a way that it is sufficient for them not to die. During this time, the shelves of the shops in Gaza were empty of goods, the fuel stations were cut off, and the markets were empty of raw materials necessary for the continuation of living, including those required for the construction sector and infrastructure facilities.
To face this, the people of Gaza raced to invent everything that would help them overcome the tough conditions, so they used kerosene pipes as an alternative to cooking gas, and they used cooking oil as a fuel for cars. However, the main feature of salvation and the people’s efforts to break the siege imposed on the Strip during that period was the building of the commercial tunnels with Egypt.
The lifeline from underground ……
In the early years of 2008, the “commercial and economic capital” of Rafah attracted everyone, as the tunnels trade had popped in the open, doubled in number and attracted thousands of young people to work in digging or transporting goods, and capital poured into them to invest in their capacities. The popular endeavor to break the siege imposed on Gaza, and its workers were described as “guerrillas to break the siege.
Little by little, “Star Square” in Rafah has turned into a copy of the Egyptian market. Through the tunnels, many commercial goods and raw materials reached the Strip from Egypt; Starting with food, sweets and snacks, passing through clothes, shoes, electrical appliances and fuel of all kinds, and not ending with cars, generators, gas cylinders, and even individuals could at that time pass and get back to the Strip.
The TRADING tunnels revived the strip, aside from goods, it also provided more than 12,000 jobs until 2011, according statistics. Hamas imposed taxes on this ONLY available trade, which enabled Hamas to meet its financial obligations. The salaries of government sector employees were not delayed or decreased at all. The same applies to workers in the UNRWA, international organizations and the private services sector.
The economic situation was not promising at all, but the tunnels and their activity created financial liquidity that contributed to the spin of the wheel in local industrialization. The tunnels’ merchandise of raw materials also created a clear opportunity for small and large enterprises to resume process of production again, and to start covering the market with local products that, there was no foreign competitor in terms of price or quality, due to the conditions of siege and the closure of the crossings. That was the vital tool that Hamas is holding.
In between 2009-2013, the tunnels made a difference in the construction sector. A flow of cement and construction materials in light of the Israeli restriction of entry through the crossings during that period. The influx of these materials provided job opportunities for tens of thousands of engineers, technicians, workers and professions related to building and construction operations, and moved the machines of concrete and block factories, among others.
The contribution of commercial spending scale to the Palestinian GDP between 2000 and 2010 amounted to 11.3-22.5%, equivalent to a maximum of $7 billion annually, and $ 1.345 billion annually as a minimum. As of 2012, this contribution was about two billion dollars.
Starvation to drowning….
After the Israeli massacre against the “Mavi Marmara Ship” passengers in 2010, which led to the death of 10 Turkish solidarity activists that erupted an international uproar, “Israel” did not retreat in its policy of blockade of Gaza, but rather began with radical changes to the concept and form of this “siege“.
A second phase of the Israeli blockade on the Strip, between (2010-2013). The most prominent mark of this era was the Israeli “facilitation” at the crossings compared to the first stage, or more precisely, the “stage of striking the productive sectors” within the inside of Gaza, as it was flooded with many consumer goods, starting with food products ending with clothes and cars. On the other hand, Israel identified a list of substances that are prohibited from entering, especially those classified as dual-use.
At in that time, the role of the tunnels in the south of the Strip was mainly confined to entering what Israel prevented from passing through official crossings. The tunnels provided cement, iron and chemicals to serve the construction and contracting sector. They also continued to provide some Egyptian goods to which the residents of the strip are accustomed.
What has changed from the first era are three things: the presence of foreign or Israeli products that compete with the local product in terms of quality and price, the lack of raw materials required for local manufacturing purposes, and the beginning of the return of “Israel” controlling the reins of affairs and activating the blockade mainly through the activity of the crossings.
It could be said that this stage was a period of relative “prosperity”. On the one hand, the crossings and tunnels operate in parallel together, and on the other hand, the regime in Egypt headed by Mohamed Morsi helped facilitate the work of the tunnels. But that was short-lived, and it was not sustainable in the interest of the factories and productive sectors. After Al-Sisi turned against Morsi in 2013, the phase of destroying tunnels and flooding them with water began, leading to construction of a deep-border fence. This brought the Gaza Strip back to ground zero in front of the Israeli blockade, which once again held the keys to the game.
Reconstruction” is calculated by the gram….
The 2014 war broke out, during which the resistance sought to break the siege militarily. As a result of the 52-day raging struggle, Gaza resulted the situation with two thousand martyrs and nearly nine thousand wounded, and thousands of facilities and residential neighborhoods were destroyed (an estimated half a million Palestinians lost their homes), and the economic situation of the Gaza Strip reached its worst conditions.
During the war, the rules of engagement began to change, as the resistance reached a conviction that the blockade could not be broken militarily, and Israel reached the conviction that confrontation with the resistance had become realy costly. In this context, the third phase of the siege began (2014 – up to NOW), a phase that was restricted militarily to harsh activities such as incendiary balloons in the GMR and sporadic rounds of confrontation, not periodic wars. However, the most hard reality is that “Israel” has transformed the crossings into a tool of blackmail and bargaining for political achievements.
After the war, the “Gaza Reconstruction” conference was held in Cairo under the auspices of the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority. The conference gave Israel the upper hand and full control over the reconstruction process, through an integrated mechanism of control that emerged from the Robert Serry agreement, relative to the United Nations envoy to the peace process at the time, or the Gaza Reconstruction Agreement (GRM).
Serry then defined this mechanism as facilitating the passage of construction materials into Gaza by establishing a direct line of communication between the “Coordination Unit for Government Activities in the Territories” and the Palestinian Authority. He also said that it “will not only address Israeli security concerns, but will also enhance donor confidence, which will secure the necessary funding for the reconstruction process“.
In its endeavor to control the movement of the crossings and the reconstruction mechanisms, “Israel” has defined three types of goods and materials that are permitted to enter the Gaza Strip: commercial and consumer goods that are allowed to cross, but are rationed and limited in quantities, military materials that are not allowed to enter, and dual-use materials, which are materials that are suitable For civilian and military use, such as: cement. The latter detailed it and defined it with many conditions, and kept its entry related to UNRWA projects only, and later made it under the supervision of the Israeli control.