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Israel to Allow Building Materials into Gaza

In the latest “gesture” to Abbas, Israel will allow limited quantities of building materials for use by the private sector into Gaza.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 9/18/2013, 4:16 AM

Kerem Shalom crossing
Kerem Shalom crossing
Flash 90

In the latest “gesture” to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Israel is to allow limited quantities of building materials for use by the private sector into Gaza.

A PA official told AFP on Tuesday that the building materials will be allowed into Gaza starting from Sunday.

After "efforts exerted by the Palestinian Authority, Israel has agreed for the first time in six years for building materials such as cement, iron and gravel to be brought into Gaza from Sunday" through the Kerem Shalom crossing, said Raed Fattouh, PA official in charge of Gaza supplies.

An Israeli official who asked not to be named confirmed the move, telling AFP it was a bid to "strengthen the economy and support Abbas."

The quantities allowed in per day would be 1,600 tons of gravel, 800 tons of cement and 400 tons of iron, Fattouh told AFP.

Israel had also began constructing a water line that would double the amount of water supplied by the Jewish state to the Gaza from five million to 10 million cubic meters (353 million cubic feet) a year, the Israeli official noted.

A Hamas government official told AFP that allowing building materials into Gaza was a positive development, but insufficient.

"It's a positive step, but Gaza needs 6,000 tons of gravel, 4,000 of cement and 1,500 of iron per day," deputy economy minister Hatem Oweida said.

Middle East Quartet representative Tony Blair praised "the Israeli government's decision to approve a series of easing measures for [Judea and Samaria] and Gaza."

"This is an important step in building a more positive environment for the diplomatic negotiations," he said in a statement quoted by AFP.

Gaza’s Hamas terrorist rulers constantly claim that the region is under an “Israeli siege”, ignoring the fact that Israel continuously allows humanitarian aid and other materials into Gaza and has approved hundreds of internationally funded and monitored projects in Gaza.

In fact, it is Hamas itself that tries to punish the residents of Gaza by attempting to reduce the scope of Israeli goods entering the region. Hamas does this because it is angry that Israel and the Palestinian Authority cooperate over what is transferred into Gaza, ignoring Hamas which rules the region with an iron fist.

The latest Israeli gesture to the PA comes after the Israeli government voted last week to approve an increase in the number of work permits issued for Palestinian Authority residents. This move, however, was not defined the increase as a “good-will gesture” linked to the ongoing Israel-PA negotiations.

The decision not to tie the work permit increase to negotiations was made at the request of ministers from the Bayit Yehudi party.

The Bayit Yehudi ministers clarified that they were not opposed to the decision itself. Minister of Economy and Trade Naftali Bennett expressed strong support for the increase, saying it was an example of a real step toward peace.