Four Palestinian communities in the Masafer Yatta region of the South Hebron Hills have been under military-imposed travel restrictions since 9 November, with restricted access to livelihoods, education, and clean water. Israeli authorities at times close off villages in the West Bank to conduct search and arrest operations, most notably after attacks on its civilians or soldiers. This temporarily restricts movement of people living in these villages.??In September, following a Palestinian attack on Israeli border policeman, the Israeli forces isolated 16 villages northwest of Jerusalem, imposing movement restrictions that affect over 40,000 people. Soldiers sealed off all entries and exits of Beit Surik village and imposed road blocks on Bidu and Beit'Anan villages. Clashes, including shooting and tear gas attacks, were reported, causing over 50 schools to close. This affected access to education for over 4,000 children.?
There are recurring constraints in access to education. In September access to schools by children and teachers deteriorated in several locations, including in Hebron, where new closures were imposed. ?On 22 August Israeli authorities destroyed or seized seven structures provided as humanitarian education assistance to two Palestinian communities in the Bethlehem and Jerusalem governorates, including several caravans used as classrooms. ?
In May the Israeli authorities installed a new fence around two Palestinian neighbourhoods in the area of Hebron, which is controlled by Israel. This separates up to 1,800 Palestinians from the rest of the city and is further compounded by the reinforcement of pre-existing checkpoints. The fence and the gate restrict residents' access to basic health services and education because of irregular closures. Children living in the area are exposed to frictions with Israeli settlers and soldiers and their journey to school was prolonged.?
Israel closed Erez and Kerem Shalom border crossings as of 14 December quoting security reasons concerning rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel. Erez is the only crossing used by people in need of medical assistance outside of Gaza. Kerem Shalom is the commercial crossing through which all humanitarian transport and goods such as cooking gas and petrol enter Gaza. It is not clear when the crossings will reopen. Ongoing closure is likely to exacerbate the humanitarian needs in Gaza, which are already strained by protracted electricity crisis. ?? Rafah crossing to Egypt remains largely closed in 2017. ?
Access restrictions in Gaza city were exacerbated in November by heavy rainfall which caused flooding. The areas most affected by the heavy rainfall were Al-Shuja’iyya, Al-Zaytoun, Al-Tuffah, Sheikh Radwan, and Muftaraq Al-Sahaba, as rain water flooded homes and shops in these areas and destroyed property. ?
Restrictions on access to healthcare outside Gaza continue to be an issue, with deteriorating health services in Gaza itself. Out of 1,858 patient applications for a permit to exit Gaza through Erez checkpoint for hospital appointments in September 2017, 55% were approved, 3% were denied, and 42% were delayed with no decision by the time of the patient’s hospital appointment. ? Among those delayed there were 140 children under the age of 18 years and 99 people aged 60 years or older. This is a slight decrese in comparison with July when 57.4% were approved, 2.4% were denied, and 40% were delayed. Since June, no medical aid or medical delegation entered Gaza from Egypt through the Rafah crossing.?Only 1,200 patients were able to exit through Rafah to get medical treatment in the first six months of 2017, down from 4,000 per month before the July 2013 closure.?
In the Gaza Strip, 75,000 Bedouins live in border areas affected by access restrictions, and have limited access to basic services. ?
Rafah crossing: The Rafah crossing opened for three days in November for humanitarian cases that include students, holders of residency permits in other countries, and the ill seeking treatment outside Gaza. ? The Rafah border terminal was closed in both directions in October. In September, the crossing was open for five days after being closed for four consecutive months since April, including for patients. ? So far in 2017, the crossing has been partially opened for only 32 days, with monthly avarage of crossings 13% lower in comparison with 2016.? In October the Egyptian authorities postponed the opening of Rafah crossing due to security reasons in Sinai.? Since October 2014, the crossing has been open on 10% of the days on average, including 32 days in 2015, 44 days in 2016 and 28 days so far in 2017. ?
Erez crossing: The volume of crossings in November was 47% below the monthly avarage in 2016. ? 55% of applications for exit permits for medical treatment outside Gaza were approved, meaning that almost half of 1,858 applications remained unanswered or were refused.? At the beginning of August, new restrictions were implemented that prevent Palestinians from leaving the Gaza Strip with laptops, mobile phones, food, and toiletries. This also affects Palestinians working in international organisations.? 94 patients were interrogated by the General Security Services in July, compared to 37 interrogated in June, which represents 250% increase. Out of those 94 only 5 were approved to travel. ?Erez crossing remains open only for those with Israeli-issued permits, primarily medical cases and aid workers. In 2016 the approval rate for permits for medical patients and their companions to leave Gaza via the Erez crossing declined.??