Israel has controlled the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza for decades, but since the imposition of the blockade in 2006, these restrictions have been severely tightened.
The Erez Crossing, located on the northern edge of the Israeli-built wall around Gaza, is the only crossing through which civilians can travel between Gaza and Israel. At the start of the Second Intifada or Palestinian "uprising" in late 2000, around 26,000 people were allowed to leave Gaza each day via the Erez crossing. During the first half of 2016, the number of Palestinians allowed out of Gaza has averaged only around 15,000 per month, with numbers decreasing as the year progressed.
Nearly all access to the outside world is blocked for the residents of Gaza. Students are denied exit to study abroad. Patients needing medical treatment not available in Gaza are delayed or blocked from reaching care. People with families in other parts of the occupied Palestinian territory are kept from seeing their relatives. People wishing to leave to pursue work in other places are prohibited from doing so.
The only official crossing for goods into and out of Gaza is through Kerem Shalom. Any imports and exports are regulated through a list of controlled entry items created by Israel.
Between 2007 and 2010, even basic necessities such as cooking gas, water filtration equipment, toilet paper, toothpaste, clothes, noodles, candy, and spices were blocked from entering Gaza. Some limitations have been lifted, but severe restrictions on the import of many goods—including the raw materials necessary for industrial production, construction materials, medical supplies, fuel, and many consumer goods—remain in place.
- In September 2000, about 26,000 Palestinian laborers were permitted to exit through Erez Crossing every day. In 2015, the number of people allowed to exit was less than 3 percent of that number.
- In 2015, the monthly average of truckloads of goods exiting Gaza through Kerem Shalom was about one-tenth of the amount allowed to exit in 2007.
- Materials needed for industrial production—including wood planks, pipes, cement, and steel—are banned from entering Gaza.
- Residents of Gaza are indiscriminately prohibited from traveling or moving to the West Bank, and West Bank residents are banned from entering or moving to Gaza—a violation of the Oslo Accords.
- Fifty-seven percent of Gaza households are food insecure, and about 80 percent receive some form of food assistance, largely due to unemployment caused by restrictions on movement and imports and exports.