Approved Gaza projects triple since easing of blockade

Defense Ministry gives initial approval to international organizations for 31 construction projects in the Gaza Strip.

Gaza Truck 311 (photo credit: Yaakov Lappin)
Gaza Truck 311
(photo credit: Yaakov Lappin)
The Defense Ministry’s coordinator of government activities in the territories (COGAT) has given initial approval to international organizations for 31 construction projects in the Gaza Strip, constituting a 300 percent increase in the number of projects approved by Israel in the past month.
The 31 projects were submitted to COGAT since the cabinet decided in June to ease the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
COGAT had already approved nine projects before the government’s decision, including the renovation of a sewage treatment plant in northern Gaza, the construction of 151 housing units in Khan Yunis in the south, and the repair of a flour mill that was damaged during Operation Cast Lead a year and a half ago.
“This will continue and we have an intention to permit what is allowed in according to the government’s decision,” a senior COGAT official said.
Since the cabinet decision, COGAT Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot has met with representatives of most of the major international organizations that work in the Gaza Strip and has held five briefings on the new government policy for Quartet envoy Tony Blair and US special envoy George Mitchell.
Under the new policy, COGAT will only allow construction materials into the Gaza Strip if they are being inserted for a specific project that is under the supervision of a major international agency like UNRWA, the World Bank or USAID, to try to prevent the materials being used by Hamas and other armed groups for military projects.
The approved projects include new schools, classrooms, medical clinics, kindergartens, water infrastructure and community centers.
Earlier this month, Dangot met with Palestinian Authority officials and agreed to establish a joint Israeli-Palestinian team to coordinate work on the renovation of the Kerem Shalom crossing and future international construction projects in the Gaza Strip.
The work at Kerem Shalom, which began last week, will include the construction of infrastructure that could be used to facilitate the increase in trucks to 250 a day and one day by the PA, if it were to receive control of the crossing from Israel.