Dozens of trucks carrying construction materials were allowed into the Gaza Strip on Tuesday after Israel lifted a long-standing blockade that it further tightened following an 11-day assault on the Gaza Strip. Palestinian enclave in May.
The imports took place during a period of tension in which Hamas militants threw incendiary balloons into Israel and staged a series of sometimes violent protests along the separation fence with Israel calling for an end to the blockade.
Two Palestinians, including a 12-year-old boy and a 32-year-old man, were also killed by Israeli fire.
Despite the tensions, Israeli officials this week allowed the entry of badly needed building materials for Gaza’s private sector, which could help calm the situation.
Bassam Ghabin, director of the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom freight terminal, said 30 cement trucks, 120 gravel trucks and 15 steel trucks entered Gaza on Tuesday. He said materials started coming in on Monday and the terminal was operating at almost the same capacity as before the war.
An Israeli security official, speaking on condition of anonymity in accordance with political guidelines, confirmed that construction materials had entered Gaza. He did not have specific details, but said they fell under previously announced government decisions.
In recent weeks, COGAT, the Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian civil issues, has said it plans to allow more goods into Gaza if the security situation stabilizes. Last week he said he would “expand the entry of goods and equipment for international civilian projects into the Gaza Strip.”
Israel, with Egyptian help, has maintained a strict blockade on Gaza since Hamas took control of the territory in 2007, a year after winning Palestinian elections. Israel says the blockade is necessary to prevent Hamas from rearming, while critics say the shutdown amounts to collective punishment. The blockade, which restricts the movement of goods and people inside and outside Gaza, has devastated Gaza’s economy.
Israel has attacked Gaza four times since 2008, and Israel has tightened the blockade since the last fighting in May. Thousands of homes have been damaged or destroyed, and construction supplies are sorely lacking.
Later Tuesday, Hamas activists planned another nighttime protest along the Israeli border to call for the blockade to be lifted.
Egyptian mediators tried to negotiate a longer-term ceasefire. But Israel demanded the return of the remains of two dead Israeli soldiers and the release of two Israeli civilians held by Hamas.
Gisha, an Israeli human rights group that pushed for an end to the closure, called Tuesday’s decision “crucial but insufficient, especially given the scale of the damage in Gaza, as well as legal and moral obligations. of Israel to the inhabitants of the band ”.
“The situation in Gaza is not just a humanitarian crisis that can be handled with narrow humanitarian gestures,” Gisha said. “Any meaningful attempt to resolve this dire situation requires a much wider opening of the gang, underpinned by a broader political process.”