Hamas is exploiting the rehabilitation of Gaza for terror purposes, but Israel is carefully working to rebuild damaged civilian infrastructure.
Israeli authorities have reportedly decided to enable the entrance of “White Portland Cement,” which has civilian and military uses, into the Gaza Strip for the first time in several years, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reports.
The import of the cement and other construction items into Gaza is subject to heavy regulation by the IDF and Israel’s security establishment because Hamas uses these materials to build their terror infrastructure, specifically their terror tunnels.
Nathmi Muhanna, PA director of Border Crossings in the Gaza Strip, told Ma’an that the Israeli liaison department –meaning the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the IDF unit responsible for implementing government policy in Judea and Samaria and vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip – notified his office that the cement will now be allowed into the Strip.
The IDF tried to minimize property damage during the 50-day Operation Protective Edge, which was launched in the summer in order to uproot Hamas’ terror infrastructure. However, Hamas was using the civilian population as human shields in hospitals, mosques and schools, forcing the IDF to cause extensive damage to buildings.
Slow and Risky Rehabilitation of Gaza
Reconstruction has been slow due to corrupt Palestinian Authority (PA) policies and conduct; Hamas’ objection to the proposed building plans, because countries have pledged to finance the rehabilitation process but have not come through; and Israeli fears that Hamas would try to rehabilitate its terror infrastructure – a fear that resulted in restrictions on construction materials.
Israel is closely monitoring the distribution process of these materials through the use of a GPS-tracking system that maps the use of the materials in Gaza. International inspectors are in place to ensure that the materials are used solely for their intended purpose.
Hamas has reportedly already begun to rebuild the destroyed terror tunnels, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in October that Israel will not provide building supplies intended for rehabilitating the Strip if Hamas uses them for such purposes.
“We want the residents of Gaza to live in dignity and prosperity, rebuild their homes and return to normal life. But we are very worried. Just yesterday Hamas representatives said they intend to reconstruct the attack tunnels, instead of rebuilding the homes of Gaza’s residents,” Ya’alon told Ban. “If this is the case, we will not be able to allow the entrance of construction materials into Gaza. We will not allow Hamas to rearm itself.”
By: Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer, United with Israel
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