After 8 years, Israel to open Gaza’s Erez Crossing to commerce

Defense minister says move ‘will not happen tomorrow or the day after,’ but will help more goods enter Palestinian territory

Palestinians arrive to cross into Gaza at the Erez Crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip on September 3, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Palestinians arrive to cross into Gaza at the Erez Crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip on September 3, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Monday announced the reopening of one of the main crossing points into the Palestinian Gaza Strip, which has been closed to commercial traffic for at least eight years.

However, he did not give a date for the reopening of the Erez Crossing in the north of the territory, saying only that this “will not happen tomorrow or the day after.”

“It is in our interests that a significant amount of truckloads of food continues to go to Gaza,” a spokesman for Ya’alon said in a statement.

“It is our interest that Gazans live in dignity. Both from a humanitarian point of view and because this is a way to protect the peace, in addition to existing security deterrents.”

Erez is currently only used for pedestrian traffic, with vehicles unable to traverse the crossing.

Ya’alon spoke of the necessity to ease congestion at the Kerem Shalom Crossing in the south, currently the only conduit for goods between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

He said that “at least half of what currently goes via Kerem Shalom” will be redirected to Erez, on the northern end of the Gaza Strip.

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According to the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories, the Defense Ministry body responsible for the crossings, 513 trucks entered the Gaza Strip on Sunday.

Israel imposed a tight air, sea and land blockade on Gaza in 2006, designed to prevent the Islamist Hamas movement that controls the territory from rearming.

Bordered to the north and east by Israel and with the Mediterranean Sea to its west, the enclave is also subjected to an Egyptian blockade to the south.

Israel controls all but one of the crossing points with Gaza — the Rafah Crossing into Egypt.

The Erez Crossing was closed to the passage of goods in 2008.

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