Ya'alon: Israel won't allow Gaza reconstruction if Hamas rebuilds infiltration tunnels

Defense minister meets with UN chief Ban in New York, laments report that Hamas rebuilding terror infrastructure at expense of Gaza's population.

October 21, 2014 06:50
1 minute read.
Yaalon Ban ki-moon

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon meets with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, October 20, 2014.. (photo credit: ARIEL HERMONI / DEFENSE MINISTRY)

Israel will not allow the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip if Hamas uses construction materials to rebuild infiltration tunnels used for the purpose of carrying out terrorist attacks on its citizens, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said.

During a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at his office in New York on Monday, Ya’alon expressed his concern over a Hamas claim that its members were continuing to dig underground passageways leading from the coastal enclave into Israel.

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The defense minister lamented that the ruling Palestinian faction in Gaza would deprive its population of much-needed reparation supplies in order to reconstruct the elaborate network of tunnels destroyed by the IDF during Operation Protective Edge.

“We [Israel] want the residents of Gaza to live in dignity and prosperity, rebuild their homes and return to normal life. But, we are very worried. Just yesterday Hamas representatives said they intend to reconstruct the infiltration tunnels, instead of rebuilding the homes of Gaza’s residents,” Ya’alon told Ban.

Last week, Israel permitted – for the first time in a year – truckloads of cement and steel into the Gaza Strip to repair damage to private homes from this summer’s war.

He added that it was imperative that Hamas not rearm itself given the situation in the wake of the seven-week conflict.

“It’s in our interest for the residents of Gaza to improve their economic situation and their lives, but it must be clear that the funds and equipment are not used for terrorism, therefore we are closely monitoring all of the developments,” Ya’alon stressed.

The United Nations brokered an agreement with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to create a monitoring mechanism intended to ensure that building material is not diverted to Hamas for use in rebuilding the tunnels.

That mechanism – which went into operation during Ban’s visit to Gaza last Tuesday – is designed to allow an estimated 60,000 homes that were damaged or destroyed to be rebuilt.

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