Updated December 5, 2011
Despite continued attacks from Palestinian militant factions from Gaza, Israel has maintained a corridor into the region for the transfer of foods and goods for the benefit of the Palestinian people.
Israel transfers food and basic supplies such as baby formula, wheat, meat, dairy products, and other perishables into Gaza daily and weekly. Other items such as potato seeds, eggs for reproduction, bees, equipment for the flower industry, and fertilizers that cannot be used to make explosives are shipped in regularly. In 2009, Israel transferred over 738,000 tons of food and supplies into Gaza.
During a typical week the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) coordinates the transfer of approximately 15,000 tons of supplies. In the first three months of 2010, 94,500 tons of supplies crossed into Gaza on 3,676 trucks. During holidays, Israel increases the transfers.
Israel also regularly coordinates the importing of building materials such as cement, iron, and other supplies with international parties. In the first quarter of 2010, 23 tons of iron and 25 tons of cement were transferred into Gaza even though those materials can be used by Hamas to make rockets and bunkers.
Israel does not deny any Palestinian medical care unless the patient is a known perpetrator of terrorism. However, at times Hamas refuses to grant permits for medical care, and in such situations the Israeli government is helpless.
Israel maintains a corridor for medical patients in need of leaving Gaza for care. About 200 medical staff members cross through each month. In 2009, over 10,000 patients and their companions crossed into Israel for treatment. This does not include the 382 emergency evacuations Israel facilitated for Palestinians in need.
In 2009, approximately 4,883 tons of medical equipment and medicine were brought into Gaza. Medical equipment includes, but is not limited to, wheelchairs, crutches, first aid kits, heart-monitors, baby feeding tubes, dental equipment, medical books, ambulance emergency equipment, artificial limbs, and infant sleeping bags.
Since 2005, Palestinians used medical arrangements with Israel more than 20 times as a cover to carry out terror attacks.
June 2010: Israel Liberalizes Imports
Beginning in mid-June 2010, Israel further opened its border with Gaza so that even more food and goods could be transferred to the area. Following the government decision, the number of trucks crossing per day increased from an average of 80-90 to 200 trucks in August. The daily average in March 2011 was 237 trucks.
According to Israeli policy since June 2010, the only goods that are currently restricted from entering Gaza are arms, weapons, war material, and certain items that have military as well as civilian applications. Construction materials are currently allowed in for Palestinian Authority-approved projects that are under the supervision of international bodies, since most building materials can be used by Hamas to build its terrorist infrastructure.
The first quarter of 2011 saw an improvement in the Gaza Strip economy with unemployment decreasing from 38 percent in 2010 to 31 percent, and the GDP increasing from $323 million in the first quarter of 2010 to $401 million in the first quarter of 2011. In the second quarter, the unemployment rate in Gaza hit its lowest level in the last decade, 25 percent, and the GDP increased to $426 million.
Lt. Col. Kobi Gertzvolf, head of the COGAT Economics Department, which coordinates Israel's activities in Gaza and the West Bank, said the economic improvement is "part of the change in civilian policies towards the Gaza Strip, an increase in the different types and number of goods entering via the Kerem HaShalom crossing has been apparent during the last few monthsâ€¦. More examples expressing the economic transformation include the construction of hotels to be opened in the next few months, the import of modern vehicles to the Gaza Strip and many other actions improving Palestinian economy."
To read regularly updated reports on Israeli aid to Gaza's Palestinians, click here.