Movement in and out of Gaza: update covering July 2022 | United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - occupied Palestinian territory

Movement in and out of Gaza: update covering July 2022

Highlights

  • In July 2022, more Palestinians exited from Gaza to the West Bank or Israel compared with any single month since 2005.
  • Less Palestinians exited from Gaza to Egypt compared to the previous month.
  • Less goods entered and exited Gaza compared to the previous month.
  • The intensification of restrictions in early August will be covered by next month’s report.

Background: Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of more than two million Palestinian living in the strip. Many of the current restrictions, originally imposed by the Israeli authorities in the early 1990s, were intensified after June 2007, following the Hamas takeover of Gaza when the Israeli authorities imposed a blockade. These restrictions continue to reduce access to livelihoods, essential services and housing, disrupt family life, and undermine people’s hopes for a secure and prosperous future. The situation has been compounded by the restrictions imposed by the Egyptian authorities at Rafah crossing.

Palestinian workers at Erez crossing. Photo by OCHA

Palestinian workers at Erez crossing. Photo by OCHA

Movement of people to Israel and the West Bank

  • In July, the Israeli authorities allowed nearly 40,500 exits of people from Gaza (in most cases, travellers exited multiple times). This is the highest figure recorded since 2005, and is 15 per cent higher than June, and more than five times higher than the monthly average in 2021. However, it represents only about eight per cent of the monthly average of exits before the imposition of the category-based access restrictions.
  • About 87 per cent of the exits were by Palestinians allowed out under the ‘traders’ or ‘economic needs’ permit category, most of whom are employed as daily labourers in Israel. The crossing of authorized traders into Israel was halted by the Israeli authorities in March 2020 in the context of COVID-19, and gradually resumed in the last quarter of 2021.
  • Some 6 per cent of the exits were by patients referred for medical treatment in the West Bank or Israel, and their companions. A total of 1,619 exit-permit applications were submitted for medical appointments scheduled for July, of which 36 per cent were not approved on time.

Background: Palestinians are banned from leaving Gaza via Israel, including for passage to the West Bank, unless they obtain an Israeli-issued exit permit. Only those belonging to certain categories, primarily traders (including daily labourers), patients and their accompaniers, and aid workers, can apply for such permits. Other people are not eligible for a permit, even if they do not pose a security risk according to the Israeli authorities. In most cases, the Israeli authorities do not provide specific reasons for the rejection of an application. If an application is approved, the permit holder may travel through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing, which operates during the daytime, from Sunday to Thursday, and on Fridays for urgent cases and foreign nationals only.

Monthly average of exits to/via Israel (people)

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Movement of people to Egypt

  • The Egyptian authorities allowed about 11,910 exits in July (some travellers may have exited multiple times). These are 10 per cent fewer exits than those allowed in June, and over 42 per cent more than the monthly average in 2021, when COVID-19 restrictions largely applied.
  • Some 271 people were denied entry to Egypt by the Egyptian authorities in July, compared with 380 denials in June 2022.

Background: Palestinians wishing to leave Gaza via Egypt must register with the local Palestinian authorities two to four weeks in advance. People may also apply directly to the Egyptian authorities, using the services of a private company. The procedures and decisions by both authorities lack transparency. Those approved exit through the Rafah Crossing, controlled by the Egyptian authorities, which operates from Sundays to Thursdays. The journey through the Sinai desert is often lengthy and includes multiple stops for checks by Egyptian security forces.

Monthly average of exits to Egypt (people)

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Incoming goods

General goods (excluding fuel and gas)

  • In July, the volume of goods entering Gaza was 7,080 truckloads, 24 per cent below the previous month, and 10 per cent below the 2021 monthly average. However, it was 37 per cent lower than the monthly average on the eve of the blockade in 2007, although Gaza’s population has grown by more than 50 per cent since then.
  • Of the goods entering, 42 per cent were construction materials and 24 per cent were food supplies. About 4 per cent was humanitarian aid facilitated by international organizations, including food and medical supplies.
  • Some 68 per cent of the goods entered via Israel. The volume was 22 per cent lower than the previous month, and 28 per cent below the monthly average in 2021.
  • Of the goods entering via Israel, over 26 per cent were construction materials (mainly aggregates, cement, and steel bars). This was 45 per cent below the monthly average recorded in 2021. 
  • Some 32 per cent of the overall goods entered via Egypt, from which imports took place on ten days. This is 28 per cent lower than the volume in June, but about 84 per cent higher than the monthly average in 2021.
  • Of the goods entering from Egypt, more than 77 per cent were construction materials. Most of the remaining goods were food items.

Background: Since the imposition of the blockade in 2007, the Israeli authorities have restricted the entry into Gaza of goods they consider having a dual (civilian and military) use, such as building materials, certain medical equipment, and some agricultural items. Some of these goods may be allowed entry, following a lengthy application and review process. The entry of all goods from or via Israel (including non-restricted goods) is only possible via the Kerem Shalom crossing, following prior coordination with Israeli authorities. Since 2018, goods have also entered Gaza regularly from Egypt, via the Rafah crossing, controlled by the Egyptian authorities, and then through the adjacent Salah Ad Din Gate, controlled by the local authorities.

Monthly average of incoming goods to Gaza (truckloads)

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Fuel and gas

  • The volume of petrol and diesel that entered Gaza from Israel and Egypt during July 2022 decreased by 23 per cent compared with the monthly average in 2021. The volume of industrial diesel for the power plant increased by 5 per cent compared with the 2021 monthly average, and the volume of cooking gas increased by 3 per cent compared with the monthly average in 2021.

Outgoing goods

  • In July, the Israeli authorities allowed 261 truckloads to exit Gaza, 52 per cent fewer than in the previous month, and 73 per cent below the monthly average on the eve of the blockade in 2007. 
  • Some 41 per cent of the outgoing goods went to the West Bank, 58 per cent to Israel, and 1 per cent to international markets. Vegetables accounted for 58 per cent of the goods and scrap iron for 10 per cent, while the remainder included textiles, fish, aluminium, used copper, and furniture.
  • Another 193 truckloads exited Gaza to Egypt, carrying scrap iron and used batteries. This is 14 per cent lower than the previous month.

Background: Most products traded outside of Gaza are transported to markets via the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, where various restrictions apply. The exit of goods to the West Bank and Israel, the main markets, was totally banned between 2007 and 2014, then gradually reinstated. Since August 2021, certain goods have been exported to Egypt, via the Salah Ad Din gate and Rafah crossing.

Monthly average of outgoing goods from Gaza (truckloads)

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Data source: Ministry of National Economy in Gaza. More data: ochaopt.org/data/crossings