For the first time in years, Israel is allowing the import of building materials to Gaza. Israel banned the import of such goods into Gaza in 2007, after Hamas terrorists staged a coup and took over Gaza to prevent their use to aid terrorists.
Israel stated that it was allowing the importation of such materials in order to assist Gaza's industry to recover from the damage inflicted on it during Operation Cast Lead.
The transfer of building materials began on Tuesday, IDF officials said, when a truck carrying cement and other materials passed through the Carmi crossing into Gaza. Officials said that several international governments, as well as the Palestinian Authority, have taken it upon themselves to ensure that Hamas does not use the materials illicitly. Israel said that the program would be expanded if it proved to be a peaceful one.
Israel banned the importation of items used in building because those items could also be used in the construction of weapons and underground bunkers which could be used to store weapons.
The import of building materials has long been a demand of Hamas terrorists and other groups, while Israel contended that the materials it was allowing through – as well as materials that were smuggled in from Sinai through underground tunnels – were being used to build Kassam rockets and other weapons that could used against Israel.
Rightwing MKs slammed the decision, saying at the very least that allowing materials into Gaza should be tied to Hamas' ability to prevent the firing of rockets at Israel by Gaza Arab terrorists. “A rocket was fired at Israel from Gaza the day this decision was announced,” one MK said, “it's simply ridiculous.”