'Gaza transfers not a change in policy'

Sewage pumping station equipment sent by COGAT into Gaza.

majd el kurum sewage 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
majd el kurum sewage 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
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 Daninsaid earlier this week. “With the UN at the fore, we along with otherinternational partners have been pushing for much greater flexibilityin allowing goods into Gaza, both for humanitarian purposes and toboost the independent private sector.”
Israeli defense officials said that the transfers were done in accordwith standing Israeli policy to enable the transfer of supplies thatare needed in Gaza for humanitarian purposes.
“We still view Hamas as a terror entity that denies Israel’s right toexist and is still holding on to abducted soldier Gilad Schalit,” oneofficial said. “At the same time, Israel makes humanitarian efforts toassist the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.”