The United States is praising Israel for what it called an “important step” in changing its Gaza policy to streamline operations at the crossings into the region and upgrade deliveries of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian Authority Arabs who live under Hamas terrorist rule.
The Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (CoGAT) explained the government’s new policy as a six-point plan that also deals with the issues of coordination of deliveries from Israel’s ports.
“The current security regime for Gaza will be maintained,” CoGAT said. “Israel reiterates that along with the United States, the EU and others, it considers Hamas a terrorist organization… Hamas took over Gaza and turned it into a hostile territory from which Hamas prepares and carries out attacks against Israel and its citizens.”
Noting that kidnapped IDF Staff Sergeant “Gilad Shalit is in captivity for four years,” CoGAT added, “The international community should join Israel in strongly condemning those who hold him captive and in redoubling their efforts to secure his immediate release.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to formally present the new policy to U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday when he meets with him at the White House.
New Housing and Construction Projects in Gaza
Nine projects funded by the international community have been carried out in Gaza since January, according to the CoGAT document, including the construction of 151 housing units in Khan Younis by UNRWA.
In addition, the Al-Quds Hospital has been repaired, courtesy of funding from the French government, and waste-water treatment plants are being built as well.
Increased Operations at Crossings
Operations at the crossings have nearly doubled in capacity since a Security Cabinet decision June 20. At the Kerem Shalom Crossing, for example, the main terminal where trucks cross into Gaza carrying food stuffs, medical supplies and other dry goods, approximately 90 trucks per day passed through the terminal into the region. One week after the decision was made, that number had risen to 130 trucks per day, and by June 29, it was 150 trucks per day. The government estimates that by mid-July, an average of 250 trucks per day will be trundling through the Kerem Shalom Crossing with goods for the residents of Gaza.
New Humanitarian Aid Lists
Basically, anything is permitted --- except those items that appear on the “prohibited” list. There are actually two lists of items whose entry into Gaza are subject to Israeli control, CoGAT explained. Items that do not appear on either list are permitted, without the need to secure specific authorization.
The first list includes things that subject to specific permission, such as arms and munitions, and dual-use goods and items. Other controlled items include chemicals which could be used to produce rockets and mortars – such as fertilizers or other mixtures, epoxy and vinyl ester resins, hardeners containing amides or amines, HTPB and water purification solutions. In addition, fibers or woven fabrics containing carbon or glass variants and vessels are also on the prohibited list, because they can be used to produce weapons that will be aimed by Gaza terrorists at Israeli civilians.
The second list is comprised of construction items and materials that are allowed into the region for the purpose of building civilian projects under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority and the international community. These are dual-use items that, when they were allowed into Gaza in past years in an unrestricted manner, were used by Hamas terrorists for building bunkers, fortifying their positions and digging smuggler tunnels. The list includes such materials as concrete and lime, gravel, steel, iron, plastic and composite beams, blocs, sealing materials, vehicles (except for personal vehicles, not including 4x4s), lumber and asphalt.
According to CoGAT, the lists were developed “based on proposals submitted by the USG, the OQR and others.”
Terrorists in the region continue to fire rocket and mortar attacks at southern Israeli civilians every week, despite the daily deliveries into the region of hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid, diesel fuel, cooking gas and other items.