Israel is again allowing the entry of cement into the Gaza Strip, following an almost two-month ban imposed on the Strip because the materials were being relayed to the Hamas terror organization and used for terror purposes.
The Palestinian Ma’an news agency quotes a statement by the Palestinian Authority’s department of civil affairs that Hussein al-Sheikh, the minister of civil affairs, had negotiated on returning the entry of cement after a two-month suspension.
Al-Maqadna added that beneficiaries and sellers could reapply for access to cement imports on Sunday, as cement trucks are expected to enter the Gaza Strip on Monday morning via the Kerem Shalom crossing between Gaza and Israel.
Israeli media outlets report that 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, has confirmed that the ban has been lifted.
Israel’s suspension of cement imports in the Gaza Strip was applied to the private sector, which was relaying the materials to Hamas, while international organizations were allowed access to cement shipments for reconstruction efforts.
“This offense is a direct violation of the accords for the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism…This is a clear example of how Hamas continues to abuse and harm Gaza’s civil population to advance their own personal agenda,” COGAT stated when the ban was instituted.
The United Nations also condemned the “deviation of materials.”
Nikolay Mladenov, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, has reportedly facilitated a new understanding between Israel and Gaza, and the materials will be subjected to close monitoring.
Israel’s ban on import of cement into Gaza has not deterred Hamas, which is overcoming Israel’s restrictions on cement and other materials by using fiberglass to fortify its underground structures.
By: Max Gelber, United with Israel