Hamas: Israel agreed to lift Gaza import restrictions on many ‘dual-use’ goods
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Hamas: Israel agreed to lift Gaza import restrictions on many ‘dual-use’ goods

Top official warns that Gazans could renew incendiary balloon launches over border, nighttime protests and other measures

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Trucks loaded with goods and merchandise make deliveries to the Gaza Strip after the Kerem Shalom crossing was opened on August 15, 2018. (Flash90)
Trucks loaded with goods and merchandise make deliveries to the Gaza Strip after the Kerem Shalom crossing was opened on August 15, 2018. (Flash90)

Israel has agreed to lift restrictions on importing into the Gaza Strip many “dual-use” goods as a part of ceasefire understandings with terror groups there, senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said.

For the past several years, Israel has heavily restricted the entry into Gaza of products that it labels “dual-use,” meaning that they can be utilized for both civilian and military purposes. Palestinians in Gaza have long been required to receive special permits to import goods that Israel categorizes as dual-use.

“We extracted from the occupation the lifting of the restrictions and the ban…on 30 percent of these materials,” Hayya told the Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV in a long interview late Wednesday.

Hamas spokesman Abdelatif al-Qanou said in a Facebook post on March 31 that the terror group was expecting Israel to permit dual-use goods to enter Gaza. However, he did not detail at the time how many such products Hamas was anticipating the Jewish state would allow into the coastal enclave.

Hamas senior political leader Khalil al-Hayya during a press conference at the end of two days of closed-door talks attended by representatives of 13 leading political parties held in the Egyptian capital Cairo on November 22, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMED EL-SHAHED)

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, a Defense Ministry body responsible for liaising with the Palestinians, declined to confirm or deny Hayya’s comments.

“We do not respond to foreign reports,” COGAT said in an email.

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to respond to a request for comment.

According to a World Bank report that was issued on Wednesday, there are 118 goods that Israel classifies as dual-use in relation to Gaza and 56 to the West Bank. Those pertaining to Gaza include several chemicals, machinery including drilling equipment, jet skis and many other materials and products.

The report said World Bank estimates found that “easing dual-use restrictions could bring additional 6 percent growth in the West Bank economy and 11 percent in Gaza by 2025, compared to a scenario with continue restrictions.”

Hayya also warned that if Israel did not abide by the recent ceasefire understandings, Palestinians in Gaza would renew launching incendiary and explosive-laden balloons into the Jewish state, nighttime protests in the border region between the Jewish state and the coastal enclave, and other measures.

Palestinian protesters hold balloons before loading them with flammable material to be flown towards Israel, at the Israel-Gaza border in the central Gaza Strip on June 14, 2018. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

“[Israel] not abiding….would mean the rough tools would return. Everything and more than the rough tools would return,” he said. “We say that we will not accept the siege staying in place.”

“Rough tools” refer to the launching of incendiary and explosive-laden balloons into Israel and nighttime protests in the border region between Israel and Gaza, which have included setting off small explosions, lighting tires on fire and pointing lasers at IDF soldiers.

Since early April, the launching of balloons and nighttime protests have essentially been halted.

Egypt, the United Nations and Qatar recently brokered ceasefire understandings between Israel and Hamas, which Hebrew media reports have said include an end to violence emanating from the Gaza in exchange for the Jewish state easing some of its restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of the coastal enclave.

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