Trucks at the Kerem Shalom Crossing in Gaza 390 (R).
(photo credit: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”