Days after terror tunnel revelation, Egypt lets cement into Gaza

Israeli security establishment furious as Egypt lets cement trucks through Rafah crossing, in decision with Abbas that disregarded Israel.

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Ari Yashar,

Cement enters Gaza through Rafah crossing, June 2015
Cement enters Gaza through Rafah crossing, June 2015
Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

Egypt reopened the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Sinai on Wednesday and Thursday for the first time in three months, and in the process allowed in cement - despite the recent exposure of Hamas terror tunnels breaching into Israel last week.

Just last Thursday Israel unearthed a terror tunnel leading under the security border to facilitate attacks in the second such tunnel found in recent weeks. Hamas fired mortars on consecutive days late last week to try and stop the tunnels from being exposed, and Gazan terrorists even fired a rocket on Saturday.

But nevertheless Egypt saw fit to allow trucks carrying cement through the Rafah crossing along with pedestrians, days after Hamas announced that new understandings had been reached with Israel to stop the clashes through Egyptian mediation.

The decision by Cairo has caused fury in the Israeli security establishment, reports Walla on Friday.

Security sources were quoted by the news site as saying the Egyptian move to allow in cement opposes the goal of the joint security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) as well as the UN, which tracks building materials entering Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing.

Israel last month decided to dramatically reduce the influx of cement to Gaza, after it was documented that Palestinian factories in Gaza transferred raw building materials to Hamas's "military wing," the Al-Qassam Brigades, to build its terror infrastructure.

The revelation, attributed to the UN representative in Gaza, led to a decision to blacklist certain civilians and factories from receiving building materials.

A security source quoted by Walla said the Egyptian decision to let in cement to Gaza came following a meeting held in Egypt on Monday between PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. In the meeting al-Sisi promised to use Egypt's influence as chair of the UN Security Council in May to fight for the Palestinians.

The source revealed that the decision between Abbas and al-Sisi to let in cement was made without Israel being allowed to be involved or have any input.

Israel had estimated that permission to bring in cement would not be given by the Nile state, not only because of the supervisory mechanism but also in light of the Egyptian efforts to destroy smuggling tunnels leading into Sinai.

Since late 2014 Egypt's army has destroyed over 90% of the tunnels, and has established a two kilometer-wide buffer zone inside Gaza on the southern border, demolishing homes and mosques and expelling thousands of Gazans in the process.