Today, 10 July 2007, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights issued a new report on Israel's decision to suspend Gaza's custom code and the implications of this decision on Gaza's already paralyzed economy.
The decision is expected to incur dire human rights and humanitarian implications in Gaza.
The report indicates that on 21 June 2007 Israel decided to suspend this code; thus erasing Gaza from the economic map.
Practically, the decision renders Gazan import and export activities through Israel's ports impossible.
Almost 100% of Gaza's imports and exports pass Israeli ports, especially as such activities have been halted through the Rafah Crossing and both Gaza Airport and Gaza International Port require major construction to be able to function.
Those need Israeli permission so that they can work.
The decision is expected to create serious impacts on the Palestinian economy with immediate effects on human rights and poverty.
Without this code, Gaza's imports and exports cannot be cleared at Israeli ports, which already received instructions not to clear any cargo headed to Gaza.
The report indicates that the decision is contrary to the economic arrangements between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization according to which the Palestinian National Authority's (PNA) areas are part of the Israeli custom frame.
The decision comes in harmony with a series of measures Israel adopted and implemented in the course of its policy and siege on the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
The report condemns this decision as an additional measure of collective punishment of Gaza's population in breach of Israel's obligations under international law.
Since 2005, Al Mezan has warned about the possible implications of such a decision, which is expected to cause scarcity of food and basic goods; including health materials and equipment.
It is also expected that Gaza, while suffering a serious drop in income rates, will be faced with unprecedented rise of prices.
Traders might have to pursue indirect importing paths as the only way to move goods into Gaza.
Given the added expenses and time required for indirect importing activities, imports will reach Gaza much more expensive.
In addition, it is expected that Gaza's industrial sector will be completely paralyzed in a very short time given the difficulty to import raw materials and impossibility to export the products.
The report recommends that the PNA rejects Israel decision and work with the United Nations and the international community to bring Israel's siege to an end.
Movement and access of people and goods in and out of Gaza must be allowed without restrictions in order to avoid more humanitarian deterioration in Gaza.
The international community must also stop its sanctions against the PNA and pressure Israel to lift its sanctions and siege in order to ensure the minimum respect and protection of human rights in OPT.
The report is available in Arabic at the following URL: http://www.