'Gaza transfers not a change in policy'

Sewage pumping station equipment sent by COGAT into Gaza.

April 23, 2010 03:34
1 minute read.
Blood-filled sewage flows in Majd el-Kurum's stree

majd el kurum sewage 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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In a humanitarian gesture that Israeli officials stressed was not a change in policy, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) on Thursday facilitated the transfer of equipment needed to fix the Tel Sultan sewage pumping station in the southern Gaza Strip.

The equipment was used by the United Nations to upgrade the station, which was in need of repairs and after the program was approved by Defense Minister Ehud Barak as part of a goodwill gesture to UN Sec.-Gen. Ban Ki Moon. Earlier this month, Israel allowed shoes and clothing into Gaza.

The transfer of the pumping equipment comes on the heels of last week’s transfer of cement and aggregate – rare commodities in Gaza – which were also used to upgrade the pumping station which services residents of the southern Gaza Strip.

Work is also scheduled to begin soon on a 151-unit housing project in Khan Younis after Israel allowed in wood and aluminum.

Israel’s decision to permit the transfer of the cement and equipment for the station was met by a rare commendation from the Quartet.

“This is a positive step forward,” Quartet representative Robert Danin said earlier this week. “With the UN at the fore, we along with other international partners have been pushing for much greater flexibility in allowing goods into Gaza, both for humanitarian purposes and to boost the independent private sector.”

Israeli defense officials said that the transfers were done in accord with standing Israeli policy to enable the transfer of supplies that are needed in Gaza for humanitarian purposes.

“We still view Hamas as a terror entity that denies Israel’s right to exist and is still holding on to abducted soldier Gilad Schalit,” one official said. “At the same time, Israel makes humanitarian efforts to assist the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.”

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