ISRAELI TRUCKS head into the Kerem Shalom crossing point yesterday with goods bound for the Gaza Strip.
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Israel on Tuesday announced that it would increase the number of exit permits for Gaza merchants and expand agricultural and industrial exports from the Strip.
The moves were part of a package of steps taken by the coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, to help ease conditions for Gaza residents and assist in the reconstruction of the Strip following last summer’s Operation Protective Edge.
Israel announced the measures just two days after the Quartet’s envoy to the Middle East, Tony Blair, visited Gaza and spoke of the importance of improving conditions for its residents in the aftermath of the summer’s conflict between Hamas and Israel.
COGAT said it would allow the transfer of 45 tractors for Gaza farmers through the Kerem Shalom crossing.
The monthly quota for Gaza merchants to travel to the Palestinian territories and Israel was increased from 3,000 to 5,000.
COGAT said that it would expand “the agricultural and industrial exports from Gaza, such as textile products and furniture.”
Since August, more than 62,000 tons of construction supplies have entered Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing. Forty-three thousand Gazans have purchased material to rebuild their homes.
Israel has also allowed the transfer of 50 trucks and 15 buses into Gaza.
To date, COGAT said, more than 2,600 tons of agricultural products have been exported from Gaza to the West Bank.
In October, COGAT took similar steps to ease travel restrictions and provided entry permits for those connected to Gaza’s reconstruction.
Exit permits to the West Bank and east Jerusalem were also provided for medical teams and for Gazans who want to pray at the Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.