First trucks with reconstruction supplies enter Gaza

Transfer of 600 tons of cement, 400 tons of steel, and exports to West Bank overseen by PA, UN at Kerem Shalom crossing

Workers on the Israeli side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing into the Gaza Strip, December 2011 (photo credit Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)
Workers on the Israeli side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing into the Gaza Strip, December 2011 (photo credit Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)

Following the Gaza donor conference in Cairo earlier this week, the first trucks with building supplies entered the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning as reconstruction efforts commenced under joint United Nations-Palestinian Authority supervision.

Fifteen trucks of cement (600 tons), ten of steel (400 tons), and 50 of gravel were entering the coastal enclave from Israel through the Kerem Shalom crossing, Channel 10 reported Tuesday morning.

Moreover, for the first time since 2007, when Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip, Israel allowed produce exports from the enclave to the West Bank, granting exit to one truck of bananas and another of dates grown by Palestinian farmers.

On the Gaza side of the Kerem Shalom crossing, PA and UN officials are overseeing the shipments to ensure they do not fall into the hands of Hamas, the IDF’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories said.

The move came as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid a visit to the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, and decried the destruction incurred by the summer conflict.

“The destruction which I have seen while coming to here is beyond description. This is a much more serious destruction than what I saw in 2009.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to express my deepest condolences to people who lost their lives and also to families who lost their loved ones,” Ban said.

Ban, who last visited the territory in 2012, said at a donor conference in Egypt on Sunday that his trip to the Palestinian enclave was “to listen directly to the people of Gaza.”

He said that international pledges of $5.4 billion in reconstruction aid were “quite encouraging.”

Speaking after the Sunday conference that secured $5.4 billion in foreign aid for the Palestinians, PA President Mahmoud Abbas described the event as a “great success.”

The Palestinian leader made it clear that the funds, of which $2.7 billion are intended to rebuild war-torn Gaza, will go straight to the PA and not to any other Palestinian groups.

AFP and Stuart Winer contributed to this report.

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