For the first time since 2007, some 70 trucks loaded with construction materials entered the Gaza Strip from Israel on Sunday.

Palestinians in the area said the shipments – consisting of cement, gravel and iron – are intended for the private sector.

Israel enforced a blockade on the Gaza Strip after Hamas expelled the Palestinian Authority and seized control over the area in 2007.

Although the blockade was eased three years ago, the ban on construction materials has remained in effect out of fear that they would be used to build tunnels and weapons.

Despite the Israeli restrictions, Palestinians have used the smuggling tunnels along the border with Egypt to bring in construction materials.

But the recent Egyptian security clampdown on the tunnels created a severe shortage of construction materials, in addition to fuel and basic goods, in the Gaza Strip.

Raed Fattouh, head of the Palestinian Liaison Office at the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Israel said that the 70 trucks were among a total of 410 truckloads of goods which Israeli officials let through the border that day.

Jamal Khudari, head of the Popular Campaign Against The Blockade, said that allowing a limited amount of construction materials was “insufficient.” He estimated that the quantity which entered the Gaza Strip would cover only 20 percent of the needs of private sector projects.

Khudari called for international pressure to force Israel to completely remove its restrictions on the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli move came as the PA and Hamas continued trading allegations over the closure of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

On Saturday, the PA ambassador to Cairo, Barakat al- Farra, announced that the border crossing would remain closed until forces loyal to PA President Mahmoud Abbas would be permitted to return to the terminal.

The Palestinian side of the Rafah terminal has been under Hamas’s exclusive control since 2007.

On Sunday, the ambassador accused Hamas of preventing Palestinian students from crossing the Rafah terminal in line with an agreement reached between the PA leadership and the Egyptian authorities.

“Hamas wants to determine who leaves the Gaza Strip and who doesn’t,” Farra explained. “They want to show that they are the only authority in the Gaza Strip.”

Hamas said that the ambassador’s remarks about the return of Abbas’s forces to the Rafah border crossing proves that the Gaza Strip is facing a “big conspiracy.”

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