The Erez Crossing (Hebrew: מעבר ארז, Arabic: معبر بيت حانون) is a border crossing on the Israel–Gaza barrier located at the northern end of the Gaza Strip, on the border with Israel. The Erez Crossing is the only land crossing for the movement of people between the Gaza Strip and Israel and the West Bank, as well as third countries when Rafah Crossing is closed. It is restricted to Palestinian residents under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority and to Egyptian nationals or international aid officials. Israel only permits Palestinian residents to travel via Erez in “exceptional humanitarian cases," and exceptionally of students and sportsmen traveling abroad, and also merchants. The Erez Crossing is managed by the Israel Defense Forces, unlike the Karni Crossing and the Kerem Shalom Crossing, which are managed by the Israel Airports Authority. The crossing has been affected by the Israeli Blockade of the Gaza Strip.
معبر بيت حانون
|Crosses||Israeli Gaza Strip barrier|
|Official name||Erez Crossing|
|Maintained by||Israel Defense Forces|
The terminal is a modern hangar-style building with an area of about 35,000 m2 (375,000 sq ft) and a capacity for handling 45,000 people per day. It was completed in 2007 at a cost of $60 million.
The Erez Crossing is part of a complex that formerly included the Erez Industrial Park. The crossing connects Israel's Highway 4 with Gaza's Salah al-Din Road. Until the early 1970s, a railway line connecting Israel and Gaza passed through the Erez Crossing. Today, the railway has been dismantled in the Gaza Strip, and on the Israeli side Israel Railways' active railway line ends about 4.5 km northeast of the crossing, though in the future it may be re-extended to the crossing to provide cargo service to the Gaza Strip.
Until September 2000, more than 26,000 Palestinian residents were able to travel to and through Israel daily (some 800,000 per month). After the start of the Second Intifada, this number dropped to less than 900 per day. In 2004, there were 43,440 crossings at Erez into Israel monthly, on average. After the Hamas takeover of Gaza, the number dropped to 2,175 in 2008. After the Israel–Hamas ceasefire in 2014, the number increased to 15,000 per month in 2015.
According to Gisha, 15,388 Palestinians used the Erez Crossing in January 2016 out of Gaza, the sole crossing. Of those, 2,896 were patients and their companions, 8,183 were merchants, and 4,309 were "others".
On 20 July 2014 in response to reports that the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict had caused a dire shortage of hospital beds in Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces opened IDF field hospital for Gazans at Erez Crossing.
In April 2015, Al-Monitor wrote that Gazans are increasingly complaining about being blackmailed by Israeli security and intelligence services seeking to recruit Palestinian spies, by exploiting their need for work, money, medical treatment or travel. According to Col. Mohammed Abu Harbeed, information security specialist at the Gaza Interior Ministry, 70-80% of citizens passing through the Erez Crossing were subject to recruitment attempts by Israel in 2014. He said they include merchants, patients, Gazans who are traveling for leisure purposes and students studying at foreign universities. A father of a seven-year-old boy who wanted to cross through Erez for chemotherapy in an Israeli hospital was blackmailed by an Israeli officer. The father said the Israeli officer offered payment for a treatment in exchange for spying for Israel. After he had rejected the offer, he was denied an entry permit. Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza revealed in September 2013 similar practices of arrest or pressure to let Gazans "choose between spying or returning to Gaza where they could die". A Gazan merchant traveling via the Erez Crossing was offered financial support and significant tax benefits in exchange for giving him information on the security headquarters in Gaza.
A woman who was sick and needed treatment was denied a travel request to the West Bank because she had a Jordanian passport, not a Palestinian one.
In April 2015, Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights reported an increasing number of Palestinian businessmen being detained while seeking to cross into Israel via the Erez Crossing for routine trips. Israeli interrogators ask them questions about occupational backgrounds, social interactions and their affiliation with political parties. The human rights group found that intelligence operatives frequently attempt to force businessmen to disclose alleged information about armed factions within Gaza. They are humiliated and treated inhumanely and if they refuse to collaborate, their entry permits are taken away.
Also, Human Rights and Democracy Media Centre (SHAMS) reported in January 2016, that Israel uses the Erez Crossing as a trap for Palestinian passengers. According to SHAMS, Israeli intelligence questions most of the Palestinian passengers with permits to use the crossing. The kidnapping of tens of passengers by Israel after questioning them was reported, some of them patients.
- Exits of Palestinians to Israel and the West Bank via Erez Crossing. Gisha, January 2016
- Gaza Crossings’ Operations Status: Monthly Update Archived 2016-07-29 at the Wayback Machine, OCHA oPt, February 2016. Source here Archived 2016-03-11 at the Wayback Machine
- Rights group: Erez crossing a trap for Palestinians. The Middle East Monitor, 7 January 2016
- Between Gaza and Israel, a Border Crossing in Need of Travelers. JODI RUDOREN, New York Times, 4 September 2014
- Graphs Exits of Palestinians to Israel and the West Bank via Erez Crossing. Gisha, January 2016 (point the mouse on the date)
- Miller, Elhanan (3 August 2014). "On Gaza border, an Israeli field hospital stands empty". Times of Israel. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
- Wilson, Simone (27 August 2014). "Why didn't Gazans use the IDF field hospital?". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
- Israel's spy recruitment puts Gazans in tough spot. Rasha Abou Jalal, Al-Monitor, 29 April 2015
- Will Israel’s Erez crossing supersede Rafah?. Asmaa al-Ghoul, Al-Monitor, 9 June 2015
- New Euro-Mid report documents Israeli harassment at Erez border crossing. Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, 12 April 2015