Responsibility Israel asserts that it ceased to be an occupying power in the Gaza Strip in September 2005 when it demolished all of the settlements there, withdrew its military forces, and proclaimed the end of the military regime. In support of this claim, Israel maintains that it is no longer obligated to take any action in favor of Gazans, aside from the minimal humanitarian obligations necessary to avert a serious crisis there.
This claim has no merit whatsoever. Israel’s legal obligations toward Gaza were a bit hazy in the early years after the Disengagement Plan was put into effect. Since then, though, the idea that a person’s level of responsibility and control are correlated has gained ground. Even though it is obvious that Israel is no longer in charge of maintaining the peace in Gaza and that it is not generally required by the laws of occupation to look out for the welfare of its citizens, it is still the force that shapes the daily lives of Gazans and, as such, is also accountable to them.
Israel continues to maintain control over vital aspects of life in Gaza even though it ended its military administration there. Except for Rafah, it has control over all land border crossings as well as Gaza’s air and seaspace. Due to this control, Israel is able to strictly observe and control the flow of people and goods into and out of Gaza. Even when Gazans only want to pass through Israel to get to the West Bank or other countries, this is still true.
Since a few years ago, the Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing has been closed. It is only open for a few days a year according to Egyptian authorities. Even so, it can only be used by people who meet strict requirements that are frequently changed. In any case, using this crossing to enter another nation requires a protracted and frequently dangerous journey; when the final destination is only the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), or Jordan, this drawn-out journey is especially unnecessary. Gaza’s isolation from the rest of the world, which includes keeping it apart from the West Bank, is a long-standing Israeli policy. The implementation started in the 1990s with the enactment of a closure on all of the Occupied Territories and the requirement that every Palestinian from these territories—aside from those in regions that have been annexed to Israel—apply for a personal permit before entering Israel, even if only to travel between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip or abroad.
Israel has gotten harder and harder to get these permits over time. Israel imposed severe travel restrictions on Palestinians after the second intifada began, cutting off the Gaza Strip from the West Bank almost entirely and severely restricting travel to and from it. In order to visit family or be reunited with a spouse, Gaza residents were not allowed to enter Israel. Fewer Palestinian Israeli citizens and East Jerusalem residents visited family members in Gaza.
Additionally, Israel severely curtailed all travel outside of Gaza, with many people being completely barred from doing so. Export and import were constrained and frequently stopped. Israel also forbade the majority of Gaza residents from working there, eliminating their main source of income for tens of thousands. Gaza experienced a severe economic downturn as a result of Israel’s restrictions on the movement of people and goods, which also hurt its citizens’ ability to earn a living and led to a sharp drop in living standards.
After Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007, Israel used its oversight of the border crossings to impose an overnight blockade on Gaza, turning nearly two million people inside the territory into prisoners, causing an economic collapse, and pushing Gaza residents into a state of near-total dependence on outside aid. Israel imposed travel restrictions on people entering and leaving Gaza, imposed import restrictions on goods entering Gaza, including limitations on food, toys, and paper, and forbade exports to Israel, the West Bank, or other nations. Documents made public in October 2010 as a result of a Freedom of Information request made by the Gisha organization revealed that Israel had adopted a “deliberate reductive policy” based on calculations of the bare minimum caloric intake necessary for Gaza residents to survive.
Israel decided to relax some of these restrictions in June 2010 in response to pressure from other countries after the Turkish flotilla was commandeered and brought to Gaza. Israel consented, among other things, to enlarge the list of items permitted into Gaza and permitted the entry of construction supplies for public and housing projects. Israel’s new policy replaces the limited list of items permitted into Gaza with a list of absolutely forbidden items, such as weapons, as well as a list of “dual-use” items, which Israel believes could be used for both civilian and military purposes and call for a specific permit. The second list contains hundreds of items, the absence of which prevents the construction of factories and the restoration of civil infrastructure.
Even after June 2010, the export quotas were still in effect, leaving Gaza economically isolated and without much of a chance to grow. The reduction of the area in Gaza where fishing is permitted is one effect of the blockade. Israel has never permitted fishing more than 12 nautical miles from land, despite the Oslo Accords’ 20 nautical mile (about 37 km) offshore limit. Israel has slowly reduced the fishing zone over the years, sometimes to just three nautical miles and now to six to nine. Fishing is also restricted by the Israeli military in areas that border both Egypt and Israel. Fishermen are shot at by soldiers who claim they have sailed outside the permitted area, detain them, and take their gear. By doing this, Israel denies Gazans a vital source of food, hinders thousands of fishermen and those employed in related fields from supporting themselves and their families, and prevents Gazan fishermen from accessing the productive fishing grounds farther out to sea.
Gaza’s economy has collapsed due to the blockade. A 47 percent unemployment rate was recorded in the first quarter of 2022. It was 75% among those under the age of 29. 60 percent of Gaza’s population experiences food insecurity, and about 80 percent of them depend on humanitarian aid. Gaza had an unemployment rate of 18% in 2000, before the blockade was put in place. Gaza’s public utilities and infrastructure are in disrepair. 96 points two percent of the water pumped into the Gaza Strip is tainted and unfit for human consumption. Due to Israel’s restrictions on the entry of spare parts necessary for maintaining existing systems, including repairing the power station it bombed in 2006, electricity is only provided for a few hours each day. This is due in part to a fuel shortage brought on by high fuel prices.
The consequences of an unstable power supply are disastrous. Medical equipment is harmed by frequent power outages. Hospitals are compelled to rely on generators and reduce services, including postponing non-urgent surgeries and releasing patients early. The regular operation of water pumps and wells is also hampered by the intermittent power supply. This interferes with the water supply, which has been drastically cut off, for household use and public institutions. The only option for residents is to consume less water and purchase desalinated drinking water from commercial vendors. The risk of disease spreading among the populace is reportedly increased by the estimated 68 percent contamination of desalinated water. Facilities for treating sewage are not fully operational. The number of treatment cycles has decreased, and partially treated sewage is now pumped into the ocean. The blackouts also prevent Gazans from leading normal lives by preventing the use of appliances like refrigerators, water heaters, and washing machines. For billions of people worldwide, including those who live just a few kilometers apart, these appliances are an indispensable part of daily life.
Residents of Gaza can only use them during the brief periods when power is available. The level of healthcare provided in the Gaza Strip falls far short of the needs of the population, and many necessary treatments are not offered there. Israel forbids medical professionals from attending conferences and seminars to stay current on advancements in their field.
Additionally, Israeli approval is required for the import of new medical equipment into Gaza as well as spare parts to repair already-existing equipment. Israeli approval is frequently delayed and occasionally withheld entirely. In order to access hospitals in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, patients who need treatment that is not available in Gaza must request Israel’s permission. Israel rarely issues the permits and only allows them in situations it deems “life threatening”; this is far from meeting the needs of the patients. Military operations Since the 2005 disengagement, Israel has engaged in several rounds of fighting in the Gaza Strip, which has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people, the destruction of tens of thousands of buildings, and significant damage to infrastructure that was already in danger of collapsing.
The precarious situation in Gaza was made worse by these attacks. Tens of thousands of people in Gaza remain homeless as a result of the ongoing blockade, which prevents reconstruction. Operation Cast Lead: On December 27, 2008, Israel began Operation Cast Lead, which lasted until January 18, 2009. According to data gathered by B’Tselem, Israel killed 1,391 Palestinians during the fighting, at least 759 of whom were civilians who had not participated in hostilities. 318 of them were minors, so that number.
Israel also severely damaged buildings and infrastructure, including water, sewage, and electricity facilities that were already in danger of collapsing before the fighting and are now completely nonfunctional.
Tens of thousands of people were left homeless and without a place to return home after Israel reportedly destroyed more than 3,500 homes, according to UN figures. In order to intentionally harm civilians, Palestinians launched rockets and mortar shells at Israel during the offensive. As a result, one member of the Israeli security forces and three Israeli civilians were killed. Nine Israeli soldiers total were also lost, four of whom were killed by friendly fire. Israel began Operation Pillar of Defense on November 14, 2012.
According to B’Tselem figures, Israel killed 167 Palestinians during the eight-day conflict, at least 87 of whom were not combatants. 32 of them were younger than 18 years old. During the fighting, rockets and shells fired by Palestinians from the Gaza Strip killed two security personnel and four Israeli civilians. Operation Protective Edge: On July 8, 2014, Israel started this operation. Israel wrecked havoc on the civilian infrastructure in Gaza during the 50-day conflict, which lasted until August 26, 2014.
B’Tselem statistics show that Israel killed 2,203 Palestinians during the fighting, including 1,371 who weren’t actively engaged in it. 548 of the total casualties, or about a quarter, were children under the age of 18, and 527 of them did not participate in the fighting. Five Israeli civilians, including a child, one foreigner, and 63 soldiers were killed by Palestinians during the fighting. Another soldier was killed in an accident, and three additional soldiers were killed by friendly fire. Israel began Operation Guardian of the Walls on May 10, 2021.
Israel destroyed buildings and civil infrastructure over the course of the 11-day conflict, which ended on May 21, 2021.
B’Tselem’s statistics show that during the fighting, Israel killed 232 Palestinians, including 137 who did not participate in the fighting and 53 of them were minors. Six Israeli civilians and three foreigners were killed by rockets fired by Palestinians during the fighting. By Palestinian fire, one member of the security forces was killed. Israeli forces began Operation Breaking Dawn on August 5, 2022.
Israel destroyed infrastructure and buildings during the three days of fighting. B’Tselem’s statistics show that during the fighting, Israel killed 33 Palestinians, including 17 who weren’t actively engaged in it and nine of them were under the age of 18.
Another 15 Palestinians were killed during the fighting, 9 of them children, when Palestinians fired rockets or mortar shells at Israel and they landed in the Gaza Strip. The fighting left no Israelis dead. No-go zones Israel uses a portion of the Gaza Strip near the border fence as its own territory and uses it to create a “buffer zone” within the already constrained Strip. A large area, much of it farmland, close to the Gaza-Israel border was declared off-limits to Palestinians after the second intifada began. The risk they face is increased because this policy was never formally announced or made clear to the residents as to precisely which areas were off-limits. The military has implemented open-fire regulations that allow firing at Palestinians found inside the zone even if they pose no threat to anyone’s life in order to enforce this access ban.
Between the time the Disengagement Plan was put into effect in September 2005 and the end of May 2022, excluding rounds of combat, the implementation of these regulations led to the deaths of at least 87 Palestinians who did not participate in fighting. Of these fatalities, 41—including locals and farmers—were killed while they were in these zones going about their daily business. When they drew near the fence with intentions of crossing it to seek employment inside Israel, fourteen more people were killed.
The residents are not informed that they must protect crops that are several hundred meters away from the fence and that are also harmed by the spraying, nor are they given advance notice of when it will take place.
During the fighting, Israel has also decimated a sizable portion of the area close to the border, including entire neighbourhoods. Locals in Gaza used to cultivate fruit trees and maintain greenhouses in these locations. Several of them were used to graze livestock that was raised for food. However, due to Israeli policy and after the military destroyed a number of crops in the region, many farmers were forced to switch to crops that needed less upkeep and didn’t obstruct the army’s field of vision. The majority of the crops grown in the area today are dryland crops that don’t need irrigation, like wheat, barley, beans, and different kinds of vegetables.
Israel followed through on its threats and allowed the use of live fire against unarmed protestors when Gazans decided to go ahead with the demonstrations despite Israel’s warnings. The result was 223 Palestinian deaths, including 46 under the age of 18, and about 8,000 injuries. The vast majority of those killed or hurt were unarmed and posed no threat to the heavily-armored soldiers on the other side of the fence.
Israel announced that it would look into the incidents in response to criticism from other countries regarding the death toll. The military’s investigations into the Gaza protests were never meant to ensure justice for the victims or to deter troops from taking similar action, it is evident today, more than 40 months after the first demonstration.
Similar to the investigations carried out by the military law enforcement system in other instances where soldiers have harmed Palestinians, these investigations are a part of Israel’s mechanism for covering up wrongdoing, and their primary goal is to quell outside criticism so that Israel can carry on with its current course of action.
The Great March of Return demonstrations On March 30, 2018, or Land Day, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip started holding regular demonstrations along the perimeter fence in protest of Israel’s blockade of the Strip since 2007, as well as the realization of their right of return. Tens of thousands of people, including kids, women, and seniors, took part in the protests, which were primarily held on Fridays, until the end of 2019. Even before the protests started, Israel jumped to paint them as unjust. It made several attempts to put a stop to the protests and announced beforehand that it would repress the demonstrators with violence. Numerous officials explained that the open-fire regulations would allow lethal fire against anyone attempting to approach the fence or damage it, and the military stationed dozens of snipers along the fence.
In recent episode of Hamas Israel killed thousands including children, women and patience. Since then
As the world’s attention has been fixed on Israel’s brutal bombardment of the Gaza Strip for the past two weeks, killings of at least 76 Palestinians by Israeli forces in the same period have barely made it to the headlines.
More than 3,500 Palestinians, including over 1,000 children, have been killed in Israel’s deadliest assault on Gaza, which began on October 7.