High unemployment, severe shortages of electricity and clean water; a young, educated population with immense potential, and deliberate policy choices by Israel that deny movement, violate rights and block development. Everything you need to know about the closure on Gaza

The Gaza Strip is a narrow sliver of land, spanning 365 square kilometers (141 square miles), bordered by Israel, Egypt, and the Mediterranean Sea. Its 2.2 million residents, half of them under the age of 19, live in one of the world’s most densely populated territories. Electricity is only available for about half the day and many people do not have sufficient access to clean water. More than 80% of Gaza’s population relies on humanitarian aid to meet basic needs. The vast majority of residents do not meet Israel’s narrow criteria for travel permits, and are therefore denied travel, including for employment and education, or to visit or reunite with family members living in Israel, the West Bank, and abroad.

Many Israelis believe that in implementing the Disengagement Plan in 2005, Israel unburdened itself of Gaza and no longer bears influence, let alone responsibility, for what happens in the Strip. In reality, Israel still denies sea and air access to and from Gaza and continues to control its land border crossings, with the exception of Rafah and Salah a-Din Gate, which are controlled by Egypt. Israel restricts the entry of goods coming into Gaza via Kerem Shalom Crossing, and demands to know what the goods are intended for, who will be receiving them, and who has paid for them. Israel decides what goods produced in Gaza can be sold outside the Strip, how much of them, when and where. Israel repeatedly closes Gaza’s crossings and denies access to its sea space, in illegal acts punishing and pressuring the population. Even in “ordinary” times, between its repeated military offensives in the Strip, sweeping restrictions on the movement of people and goods undermine basic living conditions in Gaza and violate human rights. This is not disengagement; this is remote control.