Saturday, May 16, 2009

As the quarter opens, Israeli-Palestinian cross-border violence in Gaza is moderate and rising, while, in the West Bank, violence remains low. Israel’s siege of Gaza, intended to pressure the Hamas government there, enters its 24th month, hampering efforts to maintain basic services and repair infrastructure and other damages fr. Israel’s Operation Cast Lead (OCL, 12/27/08– 1/18/09; see JPS 151). Israel allows an average of 106 truckloads/day of humanitarian goods and commodities into Gaza through Kerem Shalom crossing 6 days/ week (far less than the 500 truckloads/day the UN estimates are necessary to meet Gazans’ basic needs); limited fodder and seed through the Qarni crossing; and enough fuel through the Nahal Oz crossing to maintain emergency services and run Gaza’s electricity plant at 69% capacity, as well as some cooking gas. Only very limited numbers of medical cases, employees of international organizations, and VIPs are allowed to transit through the Rafah and Erez crossings. Restrictions on Palestinian movement and access in the West Bank remain tight, with some 630 Israel Defense Forces (IDF) checkpoints and roadblocks dividing the territory into 3 cantons, and strictly limiting Palestinian access to Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley. Today, the IDF demolishes a Palestinian home in East Jerusalem; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Hebron. (OCHA 5/20; PCHR 5/21)