Skip to main content


Volume 448: debated on Thursday 6 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the Government have made to the Israeli authorities about the closure of the Kerem Shalom Crossing in Gaza; and what alternative arrangements are being made to allow access to Gaza for food and medical humanitarian assistance. (82607)

[holding answer 4 July 2006]: The Kerem Shalom, as well as all other crossing points between Gaza and Israel, remains closed for Palestinian nationals. We raised our concerns about their closure and the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip with the Israeli Government on 29 June and we will continue to do so. The Erez crossing remains open for humanitarian cases.

On 2 July the Karni crossing was opened for humanitarian aid. The crossing is expected to be open for six hours a day for four days this week. According to the Israeli Ministry of Defence, Israel would allow 150 trucks carrying food and medicine to pass through the crossing each day.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment has been made by the (a) Government, (b) EU and (c) UN of the effect on the humanitarian situation in Gaza of (i) the closure of all land crossing in and out of Gaza, (ii) the prevention of fishermen accessing the sea and (iii) the destruction of the electricity supply station. (82610)

[holding answer 4 July 2006]: We are concerned by the humanitarian situation in Gaza, particularly the supply of electricity, water and the closure of the Gaza-Israel crossing points. Our defence attaché in Tel Aviv raised our concerns about the worsening situation in Gaza, including the loss of power and water supplies, with the Israeli Defence Force on 29 June.

On 30 June, the EU said it regrets the destruction of essential infrastructure, which contributes to the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Restoring electricity and water supplies and access for humanitarian organisations must be a priority now to avoid a humanitarian crisis. The EU has continually called upon both parties to implement the 15 November 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access, and for Israel to keep the crossing points between Gaza and Israel open.

On 29 June the UN Secretary-General highlighted his concerns about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. He called on

“the Government of Israel to show restraint, to avoid actions that damage civilian infrastructure and that aggravates the hardship of the Palestinian population, and to abide by international humanitarian law. To prevent a further decline in the humanitarian situation, Israel should also act urgently to facilitate the import of essential medical supplies, foodstuffs, and particularly fuel into the Gaza Strip”.

The World Food Programme and the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on the situation in Gaza on 30 June. They raised concerns over the water supply, health matters and food scarcity given the lack of electricity and a shortage of fuel caused by closures of the crossing points. We note with concern the World Food Programme assessment of the impact of fishermen not being able to go out to sea.