Memorandum submitted by Oxfam


1. Executive Summary


2. The situation in the occupied Palestinian territories has taken the destructive path predicted by the International Development Select Committee in its January 2007 report; with Hamas' return to violence and increasing factional strife leading to the division of Gaza from the West Bank.

3. In large part, Oxfam believes this is a consequence of Israel and the West's efforts to isolate Hamas. This does not absolve Fatah, Hamas and other Palestinian groups for the increasing number of violent acts they have committed against civilians on all sides.


4. Since June 2007, Israel's blockade of Gaza has led to shortages of key food items, rising prices of meat and other staple foods with significant impacts on the people of Gaza. The withholding of fuel supplies and spare parts may soon lead to the collapse of Gaza's water and sanitation systems with drastic consequences for the health of the population of near one and a half million people. Already sewage has swamped the streets in several communities and around 30 per cent of the population are without their regular supply of drinking water. Gaza's economy has collapsed, affecting 200,000 workers, and threatening the viability of a future Palestinian state.


5. Oxfam and other agencies' efforts to support development in Gaza have been halted by Israel's actions. Eighty per cent of the population is dependent upon international aid, aid that has become increasingly difficult to deliver with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of projects suspended because of the closure.


6. New movement restrictions in the West Bank indicate the worrying potential for Israel to cut off the territory to imports and exports in a similar way to the current situation in Gaza. Movement restrictions are increasing in correlation with settlement expansion with 580 restrictions currently in place.


7. The international community's response to the grave reality in both Gaza and the West Bank has been wholly inadequate. Despite a number of strong statements, the UK government should have acted more robustly, undertaking practical steps, to secure the opening of the Gaza crossing points and address settlement expansion in the West Bank.


8. The EU has also failed to stop Israel withholding fuel from Gaza's power plant. Oxfam believes the UK and European Union must not be party to the collective punishment of Gaza's population and have obligations as High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention to ensure these restrictions are removed.


9. The West's isolation of Hamas over the past two years has failed to lead it to recognise Israel, renounce violence and support existing agreements. Arguably, the policy has been counterproductive and has led to increased violence. To protect civilians on all sides, the international community should engage with all actors including Hamas in an inclusive process.


10. An inclusive process of engagement is also needed to address the disintegration of the Palestinian polity with increased factional violence that could lead to the permanent division of the West Bank and Gaza. The peace process is unlikely to be successful unless it also addresses and includes the multiple needs of women, refugees and other groups represented within civil society.


11. Oxfam would draw the Committee's attention to two critical points in relation to the role of the UK Government and in particular DFID, which are expanded upon in a separate section of this submission;


12. The UK and EU should act robustly, undertaking practical steps, to help secure the opening of the Gaza crossings and also to bring an end to settlement expansion.


13. The UK should support an inclusive political process, including the engagement of Hamas. It is vital to engage with all stakeholders to ensure civilians are protected from violence, deprivation and coercion.


14. Oxfam's Programme in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories


15. Oxfam GB has been working in the region for 50 years. We currently have offices in East Jerusalem, Nablus, Hebron and Gaza city.


16. Oxfam's work, and that of all development agencies, is severely constrained by Israel's blockade of Gaza over the past ten months halting development projects and creating increasing humanitarian needs that we are unable to effectively address because of the closure of the crossings. Negotiating and reporting on the flow of goods and fuel into Gaza, and monitoring the impact on the population, with our partners has become a major part of our work; alongside advocacy at all levels to end the isolation of Gaza.


17. We are currently helping at least 67,000 vulnerable people in Gaza, providing 24,500 people with simple hygiene kits and public health advice aimed at stopping the spread of water borne diseases. We are also procuring 2800 water storage tanks for around 33,000 people living in Jabalia, Gaza City and East Rafah. We are sponsoring a food voucher scheme linking 500 families in Gaza City to 120 farmers who have lost local and export markets as a consequence of the closure of the crossings.


18. In the West Bank, Oxfam's public health work concentrates on water and sanitation services to people in Area C where Israel currently refuses to allow inadequate services for Palestinians to be improved or repairs to take place. Our food security and livelihoods work helps communities improve their livestock and works with farmers to increase the quality of their olive oil so that it can be marketed internationally at the highest prices.


19. Oxfam's civil society programme works with Palestinian and Israeli organisations that are committed to reducing violence, protecting civilians and ending the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory.


20. The humanitarian and development situation in Gaza, including access to fuel, food and health services


21. Israel remains the Occupying Power in Gaza because it maintains effective control over Gaza's land, sea and airspace, making it responsible for the civilian population under international humanitarian law.


22. Since Israeli disengagement in September 2005, Gaza's development has long been constrained by the repeated and unpredictable closure of crossing points and the fuel pipeline into Gaza.[1] Even before the security takeover of Gaza by Hamas in June 2007, Oxfam's partner the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) reported that $500,000 of water equipment had already been delayed for over three months.[2]


23. On 12 June 2007, the Israeli government closed all crossing points and briefly cut fuel supplies into Gaza.[3] Israeli military officials responsible for the crossing points told Oxfam, this was because they 'had nobody to talk to on the other side,' meaning that they were unwilling to facilitate movement with Hamas.[4]


24. The major commercial crossing point at Karni was importing an average of 238 truckloads daily in the months before June 2007. Under the internationally backed Agreement on Movement and Access, it should be exporting 400 truckloads of goods daily.[5]


25. The intensity and nature of the blockade has varied over the past ten months. According to sources close to the Israeli government, the initial objective of the policy was to ensure, 'no development, no prosperity and no humanitarian crisis', equating effectively to an economic blockade where no raw materials or productive goods are allowed into Gaza and exports are denied.[6]


26. The Kerem Shalom and Sufa crossings were opened on 24 June 2007 to allow the import of supplies. These facilities have a much-reduced capacity to the Karni crossing. Unlike the Karni crossing they are not mechanised nor do they have the necessary x-ray facilities to enable the rapid transit of imports and exports. In July 2007, Israeli military officials told Oxfam that if they allowed industrial imports to enter, they would have to reduce the quantities of food and medicine.[7]


27. On 19 September 2007, the Israeli cabinet declared Gaza a 'hostile territory' agreeing cuts in fuel, electricity, and other supplies, together with restrictions on the movement of people as a direct response to rocket attacks from Gaza.[8] Diesel fuel cuts began on 28 October and Israel also closed the Sufa crossing on the same day.[9] This left the Kerem Shalom crossing with a capacity of around 45 truckloads per day as the only lifeline for goods into Gaza. The World Food Programme estimates that Gaza requires 120 truckloads of imports a day to meet the essential needs of the population.


28. In March 2008, the Israeli government allowed significantly increased quantities of food and medicine to enter Gaza, some productive goods and fuel items, while severely restricting benzene for vehicles.[10] Non-food items required for urgent humanitarian work, including water equipment, have continued to be denied access.[11]


29. The Impact of Fuel Cuts and Restricted Access for Spare Parts


30. Gaza receives 120 mega watts of electricity from Israel, 17mw from Egypt and 55mw of electricity from its own power plant.[12]


31. Gaza does not receive sufficient electricity to meet its needs and has long faced rolling blackouts in power. To compensate for the lack of supply hospitals and the water utilities operate back up generators.


32. It is also important to recognise that Gaza does not have an electricity grid. Cuts in electricity or supplies of fuel to the power plant, cannot be addressed by transferring power from other sources nor can power be directed to particular humanitarian needs. Consequently, apparently limited cuts in fuel supply or electricity can have a much greater localised impact.


33. Gaza requires four different types of fuel to meet the population's needs: industrial diesel for the power plant; cooking gas, ordinary diesel to run generators, emergency and commercial vehicles, and benzene for private vehicles.


34. Since December 2007, after the replacement of a transformer, Gaza's power plant requires 3.5.milion litres of fuel a week to operate, alongside reserves of 3.5 million litres.[13]


35. When Israel limited the supply of industrial diesel after the 28th October 2007, the power plant was able to maintain production using reserves until the 5 January 2008 when it began cutting supply until the 20 January, until the plant stopped operations, after Israel refused to provide fuel.[14]


36. The water and sanitation infrastructure in Gaza is largely dependent upon supplies of ordinary diesel to cope with power outages. As a result of power cuts and fuel restrictions several sewage pumping stations stopped working in Gaza City on the 20 and 21 January 2008 and the area surrounding them became flooded with sewage. Oxfam staff reported visiting families whose ground floors had been inundated with sewage to knee-high level from sewage pumping station 7B. Families were trapped in their homes for 36 hours with no toilets or running water. One father told Oxfam staff he had waded through sewage to carry his sick daughter to hospital.


37. Israel is continuing to restrict urgently needed spare parts from entering Gaza. On 21 January 2008, the CMWU reported that 5 generators were out of action as a result of a lack of spare parts.


38. Despite the best efforts of Oxfam partner, the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility, during the past three months around 30 per cent of the population have regularly been without their normal supply of drinking water. As of 10 April 2008, none of the 135 drinking water wells has any fuel now the sewage pumping stations have only one week's supply. Electricity supplies are already regularly interrupted for hours on end and there is now no back up and the services will cease.


39. As a result of the fuel shortages, up to 60 million litres of raw or partially treated sewage is running off Gaza's coast daily. [15]


40. Oxfam is currently predicting the total collapse of Gaza's water and sanitation systems, as the CMWU has been unable to replace most equipment for over a year.



41. Impact on the Economy


42. When Israel cancelled the customs code into Gaza, this was a violation of Israel's international commitments under the Paris Protocols a trade agreement of the Oslo peace process. Oxfam's Israeli partner Gisha have equated this action with the deleting of Gaza's economy from the map, halting the import and export of goods.[16] It has thereby effectively suspended part of the operation of the EU trade agreement with the Palestinian Authority.


43. As a small highly populated territory of 365 sq km, Gaza is dependent on the import and export of up to 10,000 items to meet its needs. Ninety-five percent of manufacturing industry requires goods from outside. Israel even refused entry for cash into Gaza for several days at the end of June 2007, causing shortages in Gazan banks and threatening TIM payments to government workers. Israeli banks also cut ties with Palestinian banks operating in Gaza. The World Food Programme estimated that over 200,000 workers have been affected.[17] OCHA reported that $370m of building projects were put on hold.[18] Private sector losses equate to $500,000 a day.


44. Mohammed Al-Talabani, owner of Al-Auda biscuit factory in Gaza interviewed in July, 2007 said:


45. "While Israel is clearly responsible for the intensity of the blockade and ultimately for all that happens in Gaza as the Occupying Power, the other stakeholders Hamas, Fatah and Egypt also share responsibility for not securing the openings of the crossing points and in some instances deliberately worsening the humanitarian situation on the ground." [19]


46. Other Concerns


47. There are increasing concerns about the growing additional costs donors are facing from Israeli restrictions and the inability of the Israeli government to judge humanitarian needs or monitor the impact of its policies.


48. The World Food Programme told Oxfam that they have paid nearly $1 million in additional transports through Sufa and Kerem Shalom crossing because they were not mechanised like the Karni crossing.[20] European Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner reported to the European Parliament on 10 October 2007 that the costs of shipping some relief items were now up to 40% of the cost of the aid.[21] Oxfam reported in December 2007, that projects suspended amounted to over $200 million.[22] This included the building of 3500 homes and emergency shelters by UNRWA designed to accommodate 27,000 people.


49. Israel unilaterally established a list of only 18 items it would allow into Gaza.[23] Oxfam believes that you cannot define a 'humanitarian good.' The denial of a wide range of items can have serious humanitarian consequences. Cement, for example, is required to build an urgently needed sewage treatment plant at Beit Lahia and electric motors are required to run generators for hospitals and pumps at water wells.[24] Oxfam and international agencies have raised concerns regarding restrictions with the Israeli government and with international donors.[25]


50. Despite repeated statements and commitments to the UK government by the Israeli government that it would not allow a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Israel has no means by which to assess the impact of its policies. Moreover, claims it has made of gaining agreement from international organisations or Palestinian professionals in support of its policies appear unsubstantiated.[26]



51. Other Actors


52. Despite protests from Fatah officials to Oxfam about the blockade, Western diplomats repeatedly identified the Palestinian Authority government as a stronger supporter of the blockade than Israel itself. It appears President Abbas failed to make a public protest about the closures until Israel declared Gaza a 'hostile territory' in September 2007.[27] Over the past year, sources suggest a Palestinian senior minister failed to raise the situation in Gaza in private meetings with members of the international community. President Abbas ordered that tax payments should not be paid in Gaza and withheld salaries from vital service workers for going to work.


53. Hamas too is reported to have refused or diverted supplies of goods. It is also understood to have withheld supplies of fuel from reaching service providers. Its declaration of a separate weekend created many practical difficulties for public sector workers.


54. Separately, the Gazan Fuel Distributors Association has repeatedly gone on strike in protest at Israeli fuel cuts, compounding the problems facing our partner the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility.


55. Faced with the destruction of the Rafah border fence by Hamas, the Egyptian authorities made strenuous efforts to ensure Palestinians were not harmed crossing into Egypt. Under the Agreement on Movement and Access, Israel has the power to stop the Rafah border crossing from opening, by refusing to allow EUBAM monitors to oversee its operations. However, on humanitarian grounds, Egypt has on a number of occasions allowed Palestinians to enter for medical treatment or to participate in the Hajj.



56. Progress in the Middle East Peace Process since Annapolis and the Paris donor conference.


57. Despite increased diplomatic activity, attempts to revive the Middle East Peace Process are clearly failing. The peace process has become little more than a virtual process, taking place in conference rooms, detached from the daily reality on the ground. Unless this changes, especially in Gaza, the peace process is unlikely to succeed.


58. The blockade of Gaza has been counterproductive, undermining security for all. Despite pleas from the UN and others, the international community have failed to recognise that the isolation and separation of Gaza threatens to destroy the Middle East Peace Process. Opening the crossings and reconciling the Palestinian factions is a first and necessary step to secure peace.


59. Oxfam sees a worrying trend in the West Bank with increasing Israeli movement restrictions that would enable Israel to close the West Bank to trade and humanitarian supplies in a similar way to current events in Gaza.[28]


60. Movement restrictions have intensified markedly, with 580 on 19 February 2008 compared with 472 as a monthly average in 2005.[29] Israel's Wall is now 57 per cent complete.[30] Restrictions appear designed to support the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, in violation of Israel's Road Map commitments.[31] Nearly 40 per cent of the West Bank is off limits to Palestinians, further reducing the chances of establishing a viable Palestinian state.[32]


61. Faced with this situation, the international community's response has been wholly inadequate as it has failed to make the robust policy decisions needed to end settlement expansion, remove movement restrictions, and secure the opening of the crossings.


62. Oxfam was repeatedly informed from a wide range of diplomats, that they were imprisoned by the Annapolis time-table, unable to address the Gaza blockade for fear Israel would withdraw from the process. The same suggestion was widely made in our consultations about the Paris donor conference and for subsequent high-level meetings. A series of Quartet and EU Council statements made reference to the humanitarian situation in Gaza have not been backed up with the necessary political will to secure the opening of the crossings.[33]


63. The role of the Middle East Quartet


64. The combined weight of the Quartet has the potential to deliver real change on the ground. The Quartet could have visited the Karni crossing to highlight the closure of this vital crossing point, yet it has not yet met in Israel or the occupied Palestinian territories. Indeed, for the past four months, the Quartet has failed to meet at all.


65. The appointment of Tony Blair, as Quartet Special Envoy, was a positive step to channel international efforts and focus attention on the pressing need for economic development. Without his support, it is unlikely that the Beit Lahia sewage project would have progressed in Gaza. His repeated calls for a new Gaza strategy are similarly welcome.[34] Quartet members should be providing him with the space and the support to deliver on this objective.


66. Progress on his West Bank projects have been undermined by Israeli obstruction. However, the Special Envoy too must ensure that his projects do not seek to further divide Palestinians by improving access for a favoured few. He must also ensure that his industrial zones uphold international humanitarian law and do not enable Israel to reinforce its occupation.


67. The United Nations Secretary General can authorise high level contacts with Hamas that may help to break the current deadlock over the crossings. Russia too can play an important role in this regard by encouraging contacts between all actors.


68. For the peace process to be successful, it has to include all stakeholders. Civil society, especially groups such as refugees and women, should be given a voice in the process to articulate their concerns. This is one of the lessons from the Oslo process that the international community cannot ignore. For this to happen, the process has to become transparent. Monitoring of the Road Map should be made public and without penalties on the parties for failing to abide by its terms, the peace process is in danger of becoming never ending.


69. There is urgent need for the international community to think not only in terms of a political roadmap or an economic roadmap but also a humanitarian roadmap, ensuring that existing human rights standards are applied vigorously. Under the current Road Map the protection of civilians is seen as a reward for good behaviour rather than as rights that should apply at all times.


70. The effectiveness of the Temporary International Mechanism


71. The resumption of direct support to the Palestinian Authority, following the incorporation of TIM funding into the Palestinian budget payments was a very positive step.[35] This is partially helping to bring an end to the atrophy of public services in the West Bank.


72. Oxfam does however have continuing concerns about the politicisation of this assistance by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Oxfam has received reports that Hamas-led municipalities in the West Bank continue to face funding restrictions by the United States and some EU member states.


73. In our work in Gaza, we have also seen the direct and indirect pressure by Fatah supporters on public service workers in Gaza not to attend work or face losing salary payments.


74. In the absence of public officials, Hamas has appointed volunteers in Gaza to run public institutions thereby creating parallel structures in an effort to maintain services. Volunteers report visiting official's homes to sign off on necessary work. Oxfam received a report that a doctor conducting surgery was threatened with a loss of salary by Fatah supporters for not striking.


75. TIM aid has also been obstructed by the Government of Israel who have cut or severely restricted supplies of diesel oil to Gaza's power plant. Oxfam believes the UK and European Union must not be party to the collective punishment of Gaza's population and have obligations as High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention to ensure these restrictions are removed.



76. The response of the UK government to the changing situation, and in particular the contribution of the Department for International Development


77. The efforts of the DFID office and Jerusalem Consulate in response to the siege of Gaza deserve praise. Unlike a number of major donors and intergovernmental organisations Oxfam consulted on the ground, both were quick to understand the humanitarian and development consequences of Israel's decision to close the Gaza crossings.


78. The attendance of DFID and Jerusalem Consulate staff at Israeli Supreme Court case regarding the cuts to fuel and electricity was particularly welcome, as indeed was their active engagement when Israel subsequently cut fuel supplies. The resulting three joint statements by the Secretary of State for International Development and the Foreign Secretary emphasised the seriousness of the situation and may have helped secure the resumption of limited fuel supplies.


79. Oxfam also welcome the undertaking of a DFID humanitarian assessment in Gaza and its widespread consultation and subsequent discussion. The publication of this report would help non-governmental organisations and donors address the current situation.


80. Given the gravity of the crisis in Gaza, a much stronger diplomatic response was however called for, and is still urgently required. For months, UK diplomats reiterated their support for the United Nations efforts to negotiate the opening of the crossing points and the plans prepared, but the government appeared unable or unwilling to go beyond this, while the situation on the ground deteriorated rapidly.


81. Ministers have also missed some important opportunities. Most notably at the September 2007 launch of the Economic aspects of peace in the Middle East paper by the International Development Secretary and Foreign Secretary, Oxfam's director Barbara Stocking described the event as having an 'air of unreality' for the failure of the Ministers to highlight the collapse of Gaza's economy. The Foreign Secretary's response to recent questions about Gaza stressed the efforts the UK was making to 'mitigate' the humanitarian situation rather than to resolve it by securing an opening of the crossings.


82. Oxfam supports the repeated calls of the Quartet Representative Tony Blair for a new strategy for Gaza. The UK should take a number of steps to help secure the opening of the crossing points. Ministers should visit the Karni crossing and the Gaza Strip to highlight the impact of the blockade and better understand the practical steps needed to open the crossing. Ministers should publicly and forcefully back the United Nations plan and undertake an intensive round of diplomacy to secure the crossing's opening, or possibly convene a Gaza conference with all stakeholders required to open the crossing.


83. If the UK is to deliver a credible economic roadmap, it has to take steps to open the crossings into Gaza. Oxfam trusts it will use the donor meeting in London on the 2 May, and the Bethlehem Investor Conference on the 21 May, to this effect.


84. Whilst making some efforts, Oxfam believes the UK is failing to put enough pressure on the Israeli government to end its blockade. The UK and EU should consider using the human rights articles in its EU Association Agreements to bring an end to such policies. While the blockade of Gaza remains, the UK and EU should not support deepening ties at the EU-Israel Association Council.


85. The failure to secure an end to the blockade also has direct implications for the delivery of UK policy, for example in the increasing costs that DFID, the EU and their implementing partners are facing as a result of the blockade, which Oxfam estimates could run into hundreds of millions of pounds, not including the staff time of officials who may have been diverted from development efforts to secure access for humanitarian goods. DFID should undertake a cost -benefit assessment of intensive diplomatic strategy to get the crossings opened against these increasing aid costs.


86. The recent visit of a Foreign Office lawyer to the region can only help the UK understand the legal consequences of the occupation and its own obligations as expressed in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Annual Human Rights Report of 2007. [36]


87. We particularly congratulate the government for its commitment to investigate Israeli and Palestinian human rights abuses, as outlined in the Human Rights Report, and we hope this will continue. The building and equipment of one Oxfam International partner, the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, was severely damaged in an Israeli attack, which did not appear to be based on military necessity. This requires investigation.


88. It is important that violent attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure are investigated on all sides, and treated by Ministers with the same level of concern. It was disconcerting that the Foreign Secretary failed to explicitly call for an end to violence from all sides in his statement on 2 April 2008 during Operation Warm Winter that killed 120 Palestinians.[37] He should also have condemned the disproportionate violence by the Israeli military, not just Palestinian rocket attacks.


89. Oxfam believes the UK should also have declared Israel's cut in fuel and electricity supplies an act of collective punishment, supporting the judgement of the United Nations highest legal authority Louise Arbour and the UN Secretary General, Switzerland, the European Council Presidency, European Commission, France, Arab League and many international human rights organisations.


90. Oxfam shares the UK view outlined in the Annual Human Rights Report, that if breaches of IHL are proved, the UK should condemn them unreservedly and expect those responsible to be held to account. This should apply to Israeli and Palestinian breaches, whether by the Israeli government or Palestinian militants. Unless all those responsible for grave violations are brought to account, it is difficult to envisage what deterrent exists.


91. As the Select Committee predicted in its January 2007 report on Development Assistance and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the isolation of Hamas has contributed to its return to violence, and created the conditions for the factional violence; leading Hamas to take security control of Gaza in June 2007. Oxfam continues to believe the UK should support an inclusive peace process that includes Hamas. The strategy of isolation over the past the two year has failed to meet its objectives, nor does Oxfam expect it to do so. The current approach is inconsistent with the UK approach to other actors and Israeli and Palestinian public opinion in relation to engagement with Hamas as expressed in recent opinion polls.[38]



92. In its response to the Select Committee's report, the UK government supported efforts towards national reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. We believe the Government should similarly support current efforts towards national reconciliation, most recently led by Yemen. Vocal support for Egyptian efforts to establish a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is equally important and may help lead to the opening of the crossings.


93. Set against the current context, the UK continued assistance to the Palestinian Negotiation Support Unit is invaluable to the peace process. Oxfam is aware how this support is enabling Palestinian negotiators to better advocate on the basis of international law.


94. Oxfam is pleased to note the responsiveness of all government departments to our concerns to ensure Palestinian water rights are protected under international law ahead of peace negotiations.


95. We equally applaud DFID for its support to the World Bank and UN OCHA in Jerusalem enabling all actors to better understand the impact of policy decisions by the Government of Israel, Palestinian Authority and the international community. This has led to some groundbreaking research in a number of areas, the importance of which should not be underestimated.


96. The joint Anglo-French efforts to bring concerted action from the European Union over settlement expansion have been vital in the current situation. We believe Ministers should visit sites earmarked for settlement expansion and Palestinian communities who have seen their livelihoods destroyed by settlements in protest at Israeli actions. The UK's recognition of the illegality of settlements is important but the UK should reassess its own legal obligations deriving from this position.


97. In its report on the Economic aspects of peace in the Middle East, the UK highlighted World Bank analysis that Israeli movement and access restrictions facilitate movement between Israel and the settlements. The World Bank reports that removing these restrictions is a catalyst for stability not a consequence of it. Oxfam similarly believe these restrictions only increase insecurity for Israel and their urgent removal is required. We believe the government should reconsider its position outlined in this report that these restrictions provide short-term security. It should examine their legality, in the light of the correlation between expanding settlements and increasing movement restrictions.




17 April 2008


[1] See UN OCHA Graph page 42, Rt Hon Ed Balls MP and Jon Cunliffe CB, Economic Aspects of peace in the Middle East, HM Government, September 2007 at

[2] Oxfam, The caging of Gaza, Oxfam, Oxford (2007), Hamas were elected into government in January 2006. Hamas militia ousted Fatah forces from power in Gaza taking full security control.

[3] See OCHA Gaza Situation Report, 15 June 2007 at

[4] The Fatah affiliated Presidential Guard had previously managed the crossings. See Michael Bailey, Karni crossing closed, the people of Gaza must use Sufa, 23 July 2007 at

[5] UN OCHA Situation Report July 31-7 August at

[6] Oxfam discussion with source close to Israeli government, July 2008. See also footnote 210, International Crisis Group Report No68, After Gaza, Brussels 2 August 2007

[7] See Michael Bailey, Karni crossing closed, the people of Gaza must use Sufa, 23 July 2007 at

[8] See Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 'Security cabinet declares Gaza hostile territory, 19 September 2007, Jerusalem. See:

[9] UN OCHA, Gaza Situation Report 1-31 October 2007, 7 November 2007 See:

[10] See Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Humanitarian Assistance to Gaza since 27 February escalation in terror, 9 April 2008

[11] IRIN, Arab donations boost emergency aid projects, 10 April 2007 at See also Coastal Municipalities Water Utility Press Release, 10 April 2008

[12] Gisha, Briefing: Israeli High Court Decision authorizing Fuel and Electricity Cuts, 31January 2008 at Oxfam interviews with GEDCO official.

[13] Gisha, Briefing: Israeli High Court Decision authorizing Fuel and Electricity Cuts, 31January 2008 at Oxfam interviews with GEDCO official

[14] Gisha, Briefing: Israeli High Court Decision authorizing Fuel and Electricity Cuts, 31January 2008 at Oxfam interviews with GEDCO official

[15] UN OCHA, Gaza Situation Report, 27 February-3 March 2008, 4 March 2008

[16] Gisha, Commercial closure: Deleting Gaza's economy from the map, July 2007 at

[17] World Food Programme, 'Rapid Food Security Needs Assessment in the Gaza Strip,' December 2007.

[18] UN OCHA, Special Focus - the closure of the Gaza Strip, Humanitarian and economic consequences, Jerusalem, December 2007 at

[19] Gisha, Commercial closure: Deleting Gaza's economy from the map, July 2007 at



[20] Footnote 8 Oxfam Briefing Note: Breaking the Impasse - ending the humanitarian stranglehold on Gaza at WFP reported to Oxfam that costs relating to Kerem Shalom and Sufa crossing nearly $1 million additional transport costs

[21] Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Remarks to the European Parliament on the Humanitarian Situation in Gaza, 10 October 2007, at

[22] Oxfam, For aid to be effective donors need to insist Israel changes its policies, 14 December 2007 at

[23] See International Crisis Group, Ruling Palestine I: Gaza Under Hamas, March 2008 quoting ICRC Dignity Denied 13 December 2007.

[24] Israel allowed cement to enter Gaza for the Beit Lahia sewage treatment plant, Blair backed project but a UN aid worker told Oxfam that at the same time Israel refused supplies of cement for UN agencies. See:

[25] Oxfam, CAFOD, Amnesty GB, Save the Children UK, Trocaire, Medecin du Monde UK, Christian Aid, Care International UK, The Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion, March 2008, at

[26] See for example, DFID, Joint Statement from Douglas Alexander and David Miliband, at 30 October 2007, and Israeli government submission to Israel Supreme Court about the monitoring of the humanitarian situation in Gaza at

Gisha, Briefing: Israeli High Court Decision authorizing Fuel and Electricity Cuts, 31January 2008 at

[27] Haaretz, Hamas denounces curbs on Gaza as a declaration of war, 19 September 2007

[28] UN OCHA, Special Focus: Increasing Need: Decreasing Access, 22 January 2008, at . See also: UN OCHA, Fact Sheet: Increasing Need, Decreasing Access: Humanitarian Access to the West Bank, Sept 2007


[29] UN OCHA Gaza Situation Report, 20 March 2008

[30] UN OCHA Gaza Situation Report, 20 March 2008 at

[31] Rt Hon Ed Balls MP and Jon Cunliffe CB, Economic Aspects of peace in the Middle East, HM Government, September 2007 at

[32] World Bank, Two Years after London, Restarting Palestinian Economic Recovery, Jerusalem, 24 September 2007 at

[33] See for example Quartet statements of 19 July 2007, 23 September 2007 and 17 December 2007. See also Council Conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process, 23 July 2007

[34] Tony Blair Statement, February 2008 at

[35] The EU agreed to resume aid to the Palestinian Authority on the 18th June 2007, the United States the following day The Temporary International Mechanism has provided 616 million to Palestinians, bypassing the Hamas government. The European Commission report they have helped 150,000 Palestinian households including 77,000 public sector workers and 79,000 social welfare recipients. Over 140 million litres of fuel have been provided to Gaza's power plant since November 2006. Gaza's water provider and hospitals also receive assistance under this scheme.


[36] Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights Report 2007, March 2008, London at:

[37] Foreign Secretary Statement on the Situation in Gaza and southern Israel, 2 April 2007. See

[38] Rory McCarthy, 'Israel warns of escalation but looks beyond violence' The Guardian 3 March 2008 at and , Jonathan Marcus, Gaza racketeers confound Israel, BBC News 28 February 2008 at