Sabotaging recovery:
Attacks on Palestinian industrial zones and crossing points

Published: 7 January 2005
Briefing Number 126

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This Briefing describes several recent attacks by Palestinian gunmen and suicide bombers on the Erez industrial zone (where thousands of Palestinians work) and on crossing points which are used by Palestinian workers to move between Gaza and Israel. These attacks cause hardship for Palestinians and sabotage their society’s prospects for recovery.

Gaza is poor. But Palestinian groups are repeatedly sabotaging prospects for improving the standard of living of ordinary Gaza Palestinians.

Israeli soldiers man crossing points out of Gaza and into Israel because of the ever-present threat of entry into Israel by terrorist groups. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other groups operating in Gaza openly proclaim their intention to kill Israeli civilians.

At the same time, Israel permits thousands of Palestinian workers to pass through these crossing points daily, to work in specially designated industrial zones, and earn a wage to help support their families in Gaza. These zones, and the crossing points and terminals used for accessing them, have been a frequent target for attack. Here are details of several attacks (the information is from the Jerusalem Post, and from the Israeli Foreign Ministry website):

The Erez industrial zone and crossing point

The Erez industrial zone is located adjacent to the northern part of the Gaza Strip. Over 4,000 Palestinians work in Erez, supporting approximately 30,000 family members. The zone includes factories owned by Palestinians, and by Israelis, and some jointly owned factories. It has been subject to mortar, suicide bomb, rocket and shooting attacks:

Gun attack blocks movement of Palestinian workers and pilgrims to Mecca

Earlier this week, on 3 January 2005, a Palestinian gunman infiltrated the Erez crossing point via a tunnel, hurled grenades and shot at Israeli soldiers. Three Palestinian policemen patrolling the Palestinian side of the crossing were injured (and treated in Israeli hospitals). The attacker was shot.

The crossing point was damaged, and immediately closed, while the attack was investigated. Not only were the livelihoods of thousands of Palestinians disrupted because of the closure. But the attack interrupted an arrangement being carried out that very day to enable 4,500 Gaza Palestinian pilgrims to leave Gaza and travel to Mecca. Because of the closure of the Erez crossing point, the journey of these Palestinian pilgrims to Mecca was delayed.

Woman suicide bomber kills four at Erez crossing point

On 14 January 2004 a woman suicide bomber detonated her bomb inside the Erez crossing point terminal, killing a civilian, two soldiers and a border policeman. The building was severely damaged, preventing thousands of Palsetinian workers from using it for several days. Hamas and the Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs each claimed responsibility.

Other serious attacks on Erez

On 12 April 2004 an Israeli border policeman was shot dead at the Erez terminal and on 8 June 2003 four Israeli soldiers were killed by terrorists who infiltrated the industrial zone. There have been many attempted attacks including an infiltration into Erez on 21 February 2003 by a gunman armed with a Kalashnikov and three hand grenades.

Attack on Rafah crossing point

On 12 December 2004 five IDF soldiers were killed, and several seriously wounded, in a Palestinian attack on an Israeli army post in the Rafah terminal, connecting the Southern Gaza Strip. The attack caused the closure of the terminal, and hardship for thousands of Palestinians who use that crossing point.

Attack on the Karni crossing point

On 15 April 2003 two Israeli civilians were killed when Palestinians infiltrated the Karni crossing point terminal. One outcome of that attack was to hinder Palestinians earning their livelihoods.


The attacks by Palestinian groups against crossing points, and against the Erez industrial zone, have done nothing to improve the situation of Palestinians. Quite the opposite: they have helped to sabotage efforts by Israel to improve their day-to-day livelihoods.

While Israel is trying to assist economic activity in Gaza, it is, ironically, the Palestinian rejectionist groups who are thwarting those efforts. They are seemingly intent on perpetuating as much misery and hopelessness as possible. Perhaps that is their goal?

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