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Government releases 'Red Lines' document detailing Gaza food restrictions

After a three and a half year legal battle, Israeli NGO Gisha has obtained the state’s ‘Red Lines’ documents, which detail Israel’s severe restrictions on the amount of food that could enter the Gaza Strip between 2007 and 2010, including calculations of Palestinians’ caloric needs. 

Keren Shalom Crossing, Gaza-Israel border. (photo: Activestills)

The “Red Lines” document was based on research compiled by the security establishment and the Israeli Ministry of Health, and aimed to “identify the point of intervention for prevention of malnutrition in the Gaza Strip.” According to Gisha, the document “includes tables calculating the food consumption needs of people in Gaza according to age and gender.”

The documents includes tables detailing Palestinians’ caloric needs according to age and gender. Following these calculations, as well as estimations of how much food is being produced inside of Gaza, the report concludes that Israel should allow 106 trucks a day into Gaza to supply Palestinians with their “daily humanitarian portion” of food, medicine, and other products. Between 2007 and 2010, however, Israel allowed an average of only 67 trucks a day to enter the Gaza Strip–falling far short of the recommended number.

Other Israeli governmental documents previously obtained and published by Gisha detail which foods Israel allowed into the Gaza Strip and which were forbidden. Among the prohibited products, Gisha reports, were “hummus, fresh meat and ground coriander.”

Israel lifted food restrictions on the Gaza Strip following the May 2010 flotilla incident. As part of a policy that Israeli officials call “economic warfare,” however, Israel continues to severely restrict exports from Gaza. The Israeli government also implements what it calls a “separation policy” between Gaza and the West Bank. Thousands of families have been split by this policy and Palestinian students from Gaza who wish to study in the West Bank are prohibited from doing so.

Gisha’s Executive Director Sari Bashi remarks: “Israel’s control over movement creates an obligation to allow free passage of civilians and civilian goods, subject only to security checks – an obligation that remains unfulfilled today.”

Although the media usually reports that the closure of Gaza began in 2007, the current blockade is the culmination of decades of movement restrictions that gradually shut the Gaza Strip and its economy down.

Restrictions on both imports and exports have been in effect since Israel occupied the Gaza Strip in 1967. By the time the First Intifada began in 1987, the local economy was crippled. In 1991, Israel began restricting Palestinians’ freedom of movement and many of those who worked in Israel became unable to reach their jobs. Sporadic closures of the Gaza Strip began in 1993, leaving Israeli employers feeling that they couldn’t depend on Palestinian workers and leading some employers to replace Palestinian day laborers with migrant workers from Eastern Europe and South East Asia.

A fence was erected around the Gaza Strip in 1995; students from Gaza who wished to pursue degrees in the West Bank were subject to a blanket travel ban in 2000. By 2005–two years before the blockade “began,” according to the Israeli government and the mainstream media–Israeli human rights groups were already calling Gaza “one big prison.”

The capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and the Hamas takeover served as excuses for the Israeli government to complete the closure of Gaza it had begun decades before. The “Red Lines” document suggests that the blockade of Gaza amounts to collective punishment and has little to do with security.

Read more: The blockade on Gaza began long before Hamas came to power

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    1. Jogortha

      Meat, coriander… and that great Israeli staple food Hummus.. were banned from entering Gaza. Yep, that’s Israel, the only democracy in the middle east. I am sure Hummus, Meat and Coriander posed a mortal terrorist threat to Israel!

      Reply to Comment
    2. Yes and what is really inexplicable in all this deeply troubling exemplar of humanitarian concern is that the people of Gaza were not even people of Arab name of appearance flying on el-Al.

      Reply to Comment
    3. I have no idea who paid for transfered food, but the minimally ethical policy would be to permit as much as such payments allow. Over time, a declining Gazan economy would reduce internal payments, so this ethical position is hardly robust. I see no escape from the inference that the Israeli State was hoping to ferment discord in Gaza by forcing hard zero sum games therein. The policy indoubtedly worked to some degree. Now, however, the Israeli State must face Gazan memories of what was done, thereby partially “confirming” what the Israeli State view that only hatred of Israel exists in Gaza. If you treat people as your enemy, some will become your enemy. Almost existentially, Israeli State policy seems compelled to confirm that all in an arena are enemies. This further belittles the Gazans who want be better life for their children–just as Jewish immigrants into Israel hoped for upon their arrival in Israel. We must all ask whether everything must be a zero sum game.

      Reply to Comment
    4. rsgengland

      Gaza has a border with its Arab brothers in Egypt .
      As long as that border exists , the Israeli blockade can not be said to be total .
      What is the minimum calorific value necessary for a healthy adult diet , and what were Israels minimum guidelines as per this article

      Reply to Comment
      • Reducing food availability to force another State to pick up the slack is sick. Given the pre-rebellion Egyptian government’s general conformity with Israeli policy on Gaza, there was no reason to expect Egypt to vigorously export food into Gaza. What you are really saying is that Gaza must be absorbed into Egypt; and I suspect you will get your wish someday. The present squeezing of the Gazans is just one of those unfortunate Social Darwinian necessities….

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    5. Please

      Sory Greg, Israel doesn’t controll all of gazes borders. Like all countries Israel can export whatever they like. If the the gazans want to change Israeli policy they can start by not trying to kill us, who knows it mighty just have an affect.

      Option 2 they can be nice to the Egyptians

      3 they can tell their friends to pressure the Egyptians

      They have options….

      Reply to Comment
      • Actually, Please, Egypt has an accord with Israel on what can be admitted into Gaza. And I suspect the food being transfered to Gaza is being paid for by various relief organizations. There was no reason for Israel to limit that.

        So, all Gazans try to kill all Israelis. Does the converse hold too, or is this aggregate logic unidirectional by divine decree?

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        • greg...dumb statement

          “if all gazans try to kill israels”

          I suspect your attempting to make some claim against “collective punishment”. So i shall answer: yes all countries, societies be they collective, libertarian, progressive all practice collective punishment including israel, its a foundation of how societies work. Examples are abundant…would you like some examples?

          As far as any accord with Egypt…i guess this is where reality once again hits the wall of fantasy. (fantasy like religion is where many hide out)

          Egypt has been opening and closing its border, delivering or not delivering stuff as it pleases. Rafah is an above ground port with trucks entering and delivering their goods to tunnels in quite the obvious manner.

          did you not know this? if not, then i would suggest you should at least start reading up on the gazan/rafah economies and what has been built there recently

          I wouldnt know if that is the agreement your referring to, is it?

          Reply to Comment