Gaza Truck 311.
(photo credit: Yaakov Lappin)
In an effort to increase the Palestinian Authority’s influence inside Gaza, Israel and the PA are finalizing plans to deploy Palestinian officials at the Kerem Shalom crossing to the Strip in the coming months, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot has told The Jerusalem Post.
In July, Dangot established a committee with Hussein al-Sheikh, the PA minister for civilian affairs, to coordinate the expansion of the Kerem Shalom crossing and future international construction projects in the Gaza Strip.
The work being done at Kerem Shalom includes the construction of infrastructure that could be used by the PA if it were to control the Gaza side of the crossing, which is the main conduit for supplies going into the Strip. Since June, Israel has increased the number of trucks crossing daily into Gaza from around 100 to close to 250.
The possible deployment of PA officials at Kerem Shalom is part of a larger international and Israeli effort to enable PA President Mahmoud Abbas to reestablish a presence in Gaza, even if minimal. Hamas drove the PA out of Gaza in 2007.
In an interview to appear in next Friday’s Post
, Dangot said the international community needed to make sure to involve the PA in all the projects it is carrying out inside Gaza. He also spoke at length about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the increase in security cooperation between Israel and the PA in the West Bank.
“The world needs to make sure that it involves the PA in the projects,” said Dangot, who took the reins at COGAT in November. “The moment the PA is involved, the Palestinian population in Gaza knows that the PA is involved.”
Already before the blockade of Gaza was loosened in June, COGAT had approved dozens of projects there, including the renovation of a sewage treatment plant in the north and the construction of 151 housing units in Khan Yunis in the south. It also okayed a flour mill where one had been damaged during Operation Cast Lead a year and a half ago.
Israel, Dangot said, had also not ruled out allowing the Palestinians to
export goods from Gaza.
Israel has let the Palestinians export strawberries and flowers to
European markets, albeit on a small scale. COGAT, he said, was reviewing
the possibility of stationing an X-ray machine for shipping containers
at Kerem Shalom that could one day be used to inspect exports from the
“Israel’s position on exports from Gaza is not ‘no,’” Dangot said. “It
is ‘yes’ – but only if Israel’s security interests are taken into
account, as well as the needs of the PA.”