Gaza is the world’s largest open air prison. Since 2007 Israel – as an occupying power – has imposed an illegal blockade by land, air, and sea that prevents the free movement of goods
and people. The coastal strip has a population of 1.9 million people, the majority of whom are
refugees; those expelled by the nascent Israeli state in 1948 and their descendants. The decade long siege has triggered major socioeconomic and health crises, exacerbated by three major military assaults that have destroyed much of Gaza’s already fragile infrastructure.
A struggling economy
Israel completely banned exports from Gaza in 2007. This destroyed much of Gaza’s industry and caused a massive rise in unemployment. 90% of commercial activities were forced to cease, and youth unemployment is currently higher than 70%.
Some movement of goods is now allowed, but there are heavy restrictions on the import of raw materials considered by Israel to have a “dual military-civilian use.” This includes a complete ban on wooden planks thicker than 2.5 centimetres, which are essential for construction.
Limited access to land and sea has significantly undermined farming industries. 35% of agricultural land falls within Israel’s buffer zone where farmers are shot at by Israeli forces. Further, fishermen are only permitted 6 nautical miles off the coast, despite the Oslo Accords stating that they would be able to fish anywhere within a 20 nautical mile zone.