PA Asks Israel to Open Additional Gaza Border Crossing

The Kerem Shalom crossing can only transfer 450 trucks of construction materials a day - much less than Gaza needs to rebuild, PA says.

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Cynthia Blank,

Aid trucks enter Gaza via Kerem Shalom Crossi
Aid trucks enter Gaza via Kerem Shalom Crossi
Flash 90

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has asked Israel to open an additional terminal for transfer of goods into the Gaza Strip, senior Palestinian sources told Walla! News on Monday.

According to the Palestinian sources, Gaza’s need for construction materials - in the aftermath of this past summer's war between Israel and Hamas - is too urgent and too massive to depend only on the Kerem Shalom crossing.

The maximum number of trucks that can pass through the Kerem Shalom crossing daily is about 450, but the need is much greater, the sources say. 

Israel has agreed to expand activity at the Kerem Shalom crossing by allowing 700 trucks to pass per day. However, the Palestinian Authority is now requesting another crossing be opened for transfer of goods and building materials. 

They have suggested the now-closed Sufa crossing as an option, or the former Erez industrial zone on the Israel-Gaza border. The Erez crossing currently does serve as a border crossing for people, but is unequipped for inspecting and letting through large vehicles.  

The Palestinian Authority is still waiting on an answer from Israeli officials. 

Palestinian officials also reported that the United Nations (UN) is nearing completion of its preparatory work to establish a monitoring mechanism to oversee building materials entering the Gaza Strip as part of reconstruction. 

The mechanism will include hundreds of both Palestinian and foreign workers, and will enable the UN to hire foreign companies to assist in monitoring the construction materials.

For its part, the PA has prepared a list of dozens of merchants in Gaza eligible to receive the materials. All have had cameras installed in their places of business to allow close tracking of the materials and the identities of the purchasers. 

Israel and the Palestinian Authority, with help from the UN, reached an agreement to begin rebuilding the Gaza Strip in September. 

"The Palestinian Authority and UN observers will take the central role of ensuring that the materials required for reconstruction will be transferred to civilians for the purposes for which they are needed," UN Middle East Envoy Robert Serry said at the time. 

The call for a new crossing comes on the heels of Israel and Egypt both sealing their borders with the Gaza Strip.

Israel closed the border crossings - with the exception of allowing in humanitarian aid - in response to a rocket fired from Gaza that hit the Eshkol region of southern Israel on Friday.

It was the second rocket fired since the end of Operation Protective Edge in late August. The first, a mortar shell fired from Gaza on September 16, fell outside local communities in the South. 

Egypt, meanwhile, shut down all border crossings following a suicide bombing of Egyptian troops in Sinai that resulted in the deaths of 31 soldiers last week. Egypt said the attack was tied to the Hamas rulers of Gaza.

Israel is set to re-open the Kerem Shalom crossing on Wednesday. 
 








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