Israel improving Gaza crossing

J'lem, PA, and UN to perk up conveyer belts, transfer ops at Kerem Shalom.

jp.services1 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Israel and the Palestinian Authority are working together with the United Nations to increase the flow of goods into Gaza by making improvements at the Kerem Shalom crossing into the southern Strip. Until the Hamas takeover of Gaza last month, Israel and the Fatah-controlled PA security forces had manned the Karni crossing in the central Gaza City and the Erez crossing in the north.
  • Gazan hunger strikers gather at Rafah But since June 12, Karni, which was the main route for commercial traffic into Gaza, has been closed for everything except for wheat. Erez has been open for medical supplies and limited pedestrian traffic. Unable to fully reopen the two crossings in the absence of Fatah or an alternative Palestinian counterparty, Israel has relied on two secondary passages at Sufa and Kerem Shalom, both in the south, to allow humanitarian aid such as food staples and animal feed into Gaza. Neither Sufa nor Kerem Shalom, however, have anything near Karni's capacity. On Thursday night, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said, "The UN, PA and Israel are working together to increase the capacity of the [Kerem Shalom] crossing by opening two conveyor belts and increasing the hard stand area for truck-transfer operations." "We are against opening the Zionist-controlled crossing of Kerem Shalom," said a Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum. "This is a conspiracy against our people by Israel and the pro-American leadership in Ramallah," Barhoum said. Kevin Kennedy, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Territories, said that even without the planned improvements, the flow of humanitarian aid had improved over the past week. "We are at 70 percent of the estimated needs in Gaza, which is a significant increase from last week, so I think we are moving ahead," he said. The UN provides some 1.1 million of the estimated 1.4m. Palestinians in Gaza with basic food supplies such as flour, sugar, beans, rice and powdered milk. In the final analysis, Kennedy said, there was no substitute for the Karni crossing, which had to be reopened. "But we are still focused on the immediate needs," he said.