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Israel lets more goods into Gaza, more workers out as Hamas reins in violence

Military liaison to Palestinians says entrance of additional materials for international aid projects is contingent upon continued security stability

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

A Palestinian policeman waves on a truck as it enters through the Kerem Shalom crossing into the Gaza Strip on September 1, 2020, after a Qatari-mediated deal with Israel. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)
A Palestinian policeman waves on a truck as it enters through the Kerem Shalom crossing into the Gaza Strip on September 1, 2020, after a Qatari-mediated deal with Israel. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Israel permitted additional goods and materials to enter the Gaza Strip beginning Thursday after a protest held the day before passed without serious incident, Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians said.

An additional 1,000 workers from the Gaza Strip will also be allowed into Israel, limited to those who have recovered from the coronavirus or been vaccinated, according to the liaison body, formally known as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

“These civilian measures have been approved by the political echelon and are contingent upon continued preservation of security stability for the long term. An expansion of these measures will be considered in accordance with situational assessments,” COGAT said in a statement.

According to the liaison, additional construction materials would be permitted into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom Crossing for international humanitarian projects. Israel also permitted new cars to be imported into the enclave and allowed for a renewed gold trade between Gaza and the West Bank.

These moves came after the Hamas terror group, the de facto ruler of Gaza, kept relative order at a protest along the border on Wednesday. Over 1,000 people took part in the demonstration, burning tires and with small numbers of rioters occasionally rushing the security fence before quickly retreating.

The event was generally far calmer than Saturday’s chaotic demonstrations. And video footage from the Gazan side of the border showed Hamas operatives in yellow vests during the protests working to maintain a degree of order.

The Israel Defense Forces, which deployed additional troops along the border ahead of the protest, responded with less-lethal riot dispersal weapons, like tear gas and stun grenades, as well as live fire in a small number of cases.

Fourteen Palestinians were injured during the demonstration, five of them from live rounds, two from rubber-coated bullets and seven from tear gas inhalation, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.

Tensions along the border have risen in recent weeks over growing unrest in the Strip at the slow progress of reconstruction following May’s 11-day conflict, known in Israel as Operation Guardian of the Walls.

The past month has seen a return of balloon-borne incendiary devices launched from Gaza into Israel, causing at least nine fires on Monday alone, as well as a rocket attack on Sderot last Monday that was apparently in response to the deaths of four Palestinian men in a gun battle with IDF troops in the northern West Bank city of Jenin the night before.

Palestinians run from tear gas fired by Israeli security forces along the border fence, east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 25, 2021. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Israel has severely limited the transfer of building materials and other goods into Gaza as a means of pressuring Hamas to release two Israeli civilians they are holding captive, along with the remains of two IDF soldiers.

On Saturday, Palestinian terror groups organized a similar protest along the border, which saw dozens of rioters rush the security fence, apparently catching the Israeli troops stationed there off-guard. One man with a pistol opened fire into an IDF sniper position along the barrier, hitting a border guard in the head and critically wounding him. Forty-one Palestinians were injured during Saturday’s riot, including a Hamas operative who later succumbed to his wounds.

In light of the generally peaceful demonstration on Wednesday, Palestinian media in the Gaza Strip reported that Egypt was expected to at least partially reopen its Rafah crossing with the enclave, after Cairo shut the terminal on Sunday in response to the riot the day before.

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