Israel cannot impose a blockade on its own. Egypt controls the southern border of the Gaza Strip and has maintained its own blockade to prevent Hamas from obtaining weapons from Iran and materials it can use to manufacture rockets to fire at Israeli cities. Egypt has demolished dozens of homes along its border with Gaza to create a buffer zone to stop smugglers and extremists from crossing in either direction, and a wall to prevent their use of tunnels under the border (“Egypt Demolishes Sinai Homes for Gaza Border Buffer,” BBC, October 29, 2014); “Egypt Demolishes 1,020 Rafah Homes for Gaza Buffer Zone,” Maan News Agency, March 19, 2015).
The Islamic Research Council of Al-Azhar University in Egypt, the voice of Sunni Islam, has publicly supported Egypt’s attempts to destroy the smuggling tunnels that run between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. “It is one of Egypt’s legitimate rights to place a barrier that prevents the harm from the tunnels under Rafah, which are used to smuggle drugs and other (contraband) that threaten Egypt’s stability,” the Council said. “Those who oppose building this wall are violating the commands of Islamic Law” (“Leading Egypt Clerics Back Gaza Tunnel Barrier: Report,” Agence France Presse, January 1, 2010).
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas voiced his support of the blockade to U.S. President Barack Obama when they met at the White House on June 9, 2010. Abbas stated that lifting the blockade would give Hamas access to more weaponry (Barak Ravid, “Abbas to Obama: I’m Against Lifting The Gaza Naval Blockade,” Haaretz, June 13, 2010.
Meanwhile, people and goods can enter Egypt through Rafah and fuel and goods via the Salah Al-Din crossing point. At the border with Israel, the Erez crossing is used for people and the Kerem Shalom is used for transferring goods and fuel.
In 2021, the UN recorded 179,390 exits and 158,764 entries via the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt and 90,421 exits and 87,015 entries via the Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel. These figures refer only to the movement of people and are additional to the movement of goods and fuels.”
In addition, Israel has also complied with—and exceeded—international law by delivering humanitarian supplies it is not required to provide.
Nevertheless, Israel is sometimes accused of “collective punishment”; however, this refers to the “imposition of criminal-type penalties to individuals or groups on the basis of another’s guilt.” Israel has done no such thing. Israel has no obligation to maintain open borders with a hostile territory. The suspension of trade relations or embargoes is a frequent tool of international diplomacy and has never been regarded as “collective punishment”(Abraham Bell, “International Law and Gaza: The Assault on Israel’s Right to Self-Defense,” JCPA, January 28, 2008); “Is Israel Bound by International Law to Supply Utilities, Goods, and Services to Gaza?” JCPA, February 28, 2008).
In 2011, the UN Palmer Committee concluded that Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip is consistent with customary international law, is legitimate due to the security threat posed by Hamas, and does not constitute collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza.
Meanwhile, “peace activists” seeking to break the blockade have not spoken out against Hamas terror or the denial of human rights to Palestinians by Hamas officials ruling the Gaza Strip. The international community, moreover, with the possible exception of Turkey, has not opposed the actions of Israel and Egypt because Hamas has refused to meet the conditions for ending the blockade: halting terror attacks, recognizing Israel’s right to exist, and agreeing to abide by past Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
Myths and Facts: Jewish Virtual Library