Gaza Exports via Israel despite Terror, Shalit Captivity
IDF Major-General Eitan Dangot, coordinator of government activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, has informed a visiting Italian minister that Israel will soon allow Hamas-run Gaza to export goods through Israeli crossings. The move would be likely to significantly boost exports, bringing new money to Hamas coffers.
Dangot told Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini that Israel will begin to allow exports through Israeli crossings by mid-2011.
His revelation came as IDF soldier Gilad Shalit remains captive, held by Hamas. Shalit was kidnapped during a terrorist attack in Israeli territory in 2006. Hamas demands the release of 1,000 terrorists, including mass murderers, in exchange for his freedom.
In addition, terrorism from Gaza continues. Terrorists have recently stepped up their attacks, firing on the city of Ofakim for the first time since the Cast Lead counterterror operation in early 2009, and using white phosphorus in rockets launched at Israeli civilians.
Israel has already begun to prepare for resumed exports from Gaza, Dangot said. Work is being done at the Kerem Shalom crossing to increase its capacity.
Some exports have already begun. Israel is already allowing flowers and strawberries to be exported via Israel.
Dangot reported that Israel has significantly relaxed its policy on imports to Gaza as well. While Israel initially allowed only humanitarian aid to enter the region from Israel following the Hamas takeover, today approximately 250 trucks enter the region every day bearing a wide variety of goods, and everything but weapons and dual-purpose goods is allowed through.
As the work at Kerem Shalom progresses, imports are expected to rise further, and by early 2011 an estimated 400 trucks will deliver goods to Gaza daily, he said.
Frattini was shown a live video feed of activity at Kerem Shalom, where workers were busy checking goods entering Gaza. He and Dangot also discussed projects taking place in Gaza in the fields of housing and education.
While the world has focused primarily on Israel's Gaza policy, the region also shares a border with Egypt. Egyptian authorities have also relaxed their policy regarding Hamas-run Gaza recently, allowing Gaza residents to exit via Egypt's Rafiah crossing and allowing foreign activists bringing goods to enter.