The Kerem Shalom Crossing, the only border station in operation between Hamas-controlled Gaza and Israel, was re-opened Tuesday morning after a Monday closure due to a reported Hamas takeover of the station.
Hamas has reportedly backed down from its removal on Monday of the Palestinian Authority-appointed contractor who operates the crossing from the Gaza side, and Israeli authorities therefore decided to reopen the crossing. About 400 trucks of goods were expected to cross into Gaza on Tuesday.
The Shuhaiber company, run by an independent contractor, has operated the crossing for years on behalf of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, which has been at odds with the Hamas leadership in Gaza. Palestinian media reported on Monday that Hamas officials informed Shuhaiber that he had been relieved of responsibilities.
However, a truck driver who uses the crossings said Monday that the shutdown had come about at the instigation of truck drivers angry about the company’s exorbitant prices.
The crossing had been inactive for several days after a rocket fired from Gaza landed in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon last Tuesday. Israel was set to resume the transfer of goods Monday, but Monday afternoon some 70 trucks sat idling on the Israeli side of the fence after no one showed up on the Palestinian side to operate the facility, military spokesman said.
Since the beginning of Israel’s naval blockade in 2007, after Hamas ascended to power in the Gaza Strip, Israel has allowed humanitarian aid to enter the coastal territory overland. Between 150 and 250 trucks pass through Kerem Shalom daily, providing fuel, essential medical supplies and food to the residents of Gaza.