Gaza cement resumes after Israel lifts ban

Ban on private imports of cement had been imposed after senior Hamas official caught diverting them to rebuild attack tunnels.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

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

Private cement deliveries to the Gaza Strip resumed on Monday after Israel lifted a nearly two-month ban it imposed over the diversion of materials by a Hamas official to rebuild the terrorist group's terror tunnel network.  

Israel imposed the ban in early April in the territory run by Islamist terrorist group Hamas, which is still rebuilding after a devastating 2014 war.

The ban affected private providers, meaning Qatar, a major donor to Gazan reconstruction, and the United Nations were still able to bring in cement to Gaza, under an Israeli blockade for nearly a decade.

Raed Fattouh, who oversees the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip, said private deliveries had resumed for the first time since April 3.

"We are expecting 90 trucks transporting around 3,200 tonnes of cement, in compliance with the mechanism put in place by the UN, and deliveries will continue every day of the week," he said.

Robert Piper, the UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian Authority and Gaza, confirmed that more than 90 trucks entered Gaza on Monday, calling it a "decent return" close to levels towards the beginning of the year

Israel said late Sunday it was lifting the ban "in accordance with the security assessment and the understandings reached with the international community".

It had imposed the ban after accusing Imad al-Baz, deputy director of the Hamas economy ministry, of diverting supplies, which he denied.

Israel restricts the entry of goods into Gaza out of fears they will be used for weaponry or to build tunnels that can be used for attacks.

Israel and Palestinian terrorists in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008.

Nickolay Mladenov, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, welcomed Israel's decision to lift the ban.

"It is critical for the security of both Palestinians and Israelis that Gaza remains calm and hope is restored to its people," he said.

AFP contributed this report.

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