About 1.7 million Palestinians, a majority of them refugees, live in one of the mostly densely populated regions in the world. Since June 2007, when Hamas gained control of the strip, Israel and Egypt have restricted trade and movement in and out of Gaza. Israel says the closure is meant to weaken Gaza’s Hamas rulers and prevent militants from attacking targets in Israel. International aid groups say the blockade has seriously harmed Gaza’s economy as well as its health system and infrastructure.
Here’s a brief look at the economic impact of the border blockade and the humanitarian situation in Gaza:
Israel allows many consumer goods and medicine into Gaza, but restricts the import of construction material it says can be diverted by Hamas for military use. International aid agencies are exempt from the import ban on cement and steel.
Since 2007, Israel has banned Palestinians in Gaza from exporting goods to Israel and the West Bank. Such exports had made up the bulk of Gaza’s outgoing produce and manufactured goods, according to the Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement. There have been a few exceptions. Israel allows Gaza goods to be exported to third countries, leaving from Israel’s main airport, but the high transportation costs deter such shipments.
Gish says Gaza’s exports make up just 2 percent of what they were before 2007.
Israel operates two main border crossings with Gaza: Kerem Shalom for cargo and Erez for passengers. Israel only permits select groups to leave Gaza, including those seeking medical treatment in Israel and traders.
The official unemployment rate is close to 50 percent.
There are more than 1.2 million registered Palestinian refugees in Gaza, and over half a million live in eight officially recognized refugee camps, according to UNRWA, the U.N. refugee agency for Palestinians.
About 80 percent of the population in the Gaza Strip is dependent on some type of international aid assistance, according to UNRWA, the U.N. refugee agency for Palestinians.
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