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Human rights organizations: Israel must immediately cease attacks on Gaza’s civilian population and re-open Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings

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11 May 2023

Human rights organizations Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights Israel, Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement and Adalah Legal Center jointly demand that Israeli authorities put an immediate stop to the killing and harm caused to Gaza's civilian population and promptly re-open Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings.

On Tuesday at dawn, 9 May 2023, Israeli forces launched a full-scale military assault on Gaza— the third in the last two years. According to Gaza-based Al Mezan, 25 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the Israeli assault, including six children and four women, while 76 others have been injured, including 24 children and 14 women.[1] 

In parallel to the ongoing assault, since Tuesday, 9 May, Israel also further tightened its unlawful closure measures on Gaza by closing Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings. For the third day in a row, Israel has been blocking all movement of people through Erez—even for urgent medical treatment and other humanitarian needs—and preventing the transit of all goods through Kerem Shalom, including the entry of fuel for Gaza's only power plant.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed that by closing Erez, Israeli authorities prevented 292 patients (mostly cancer patients) and their companions, in addition to 15 life-saving cases, from leaving Gaza to attend scheduled appointments and receive treatment at hospitals in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Israel despite holding Israeli-issued exit permits.

As Kerem Shalom remains closed, basic necessities have not entered Gaza for three days in a row. According to UN OCHA, the closure of Kerem Shalom prevented the entry of over 300 truckloads of goods a day carrying vital items such as food, medical supplies, and fuel. As a result, Gaza's only power plant, which runs on fuel imported from Israel, has been forced to reduce operations, limiting electricity supply to an average of 12-14 hours per day (non-consecutive). This seriously jeopardizes the provision of essential services, in particular health, water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities.

The current state of hostilities does not absolve Israel of its humanitarian obligations towards more than two million Palestinians living in the occupied Gaza Strip. As the occupying power, international humanitarian law requires Israel to ensure, to the fullest extent of the means available to it, that Gaza is supplied with the food, medical supplies, and other basic goods needed to allow the population to live under adequate conditions.

Notwithstanding, Israel has flagrantly breached international law by attacking civilians and homes, preventing the movement of people, including medical patients, and blocking the supply of essential goods, giving rise to a suspicion of war crimes. This has been done with almost blanket impunity.    

Accordingly, our organizations urge the international community to take action and demand Israel to immediately stop the assault on the Gaza Strip, the killing and harm caused to Gaza’s civilian population, and to open Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings without delay so as to allow humanitarian access, at the very least, including the exit of patients in need of urgent medical treatment that is not available in Gaza and entry of fuel and other essential goods.      

[1] Figures as of 1 p.m. (Gaza time) on 11 May 2023.