Israel said Sunday it had agreed to authorize the transfer of more construction materials into the Gaza Strip, several months after cutting off supplies in the wake of the discovery of a tunnel burrowed from the Strip into Israel.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon approved the entry of roughly 1,000 tons of cement and building materials into the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory for repairs necessitated by destruction caused during December’s severe storm, in addition to other projects facilitated by UN agencies, according to a spokesman for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.
COGAT head Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot reportedly consulted with senior Palestinian Authority officials prior to the decision.
In September 2013, Israel announced it would resume allowing construction materials into Gaza, but cut off the supplies a month later after the discovery of what the IDF called a “terror tunnel.” The passageway, which crossed from the Gaza into Israel and contained explosives, was constructed using some 500 tons of cement, the army said. Israel said the move was a security measure and not a punitive one.
The decision to resume cement imports Sunday came after a severe storm in December caused widespread flooding and damage in the Strip, where 40,000 people were forced from their homes.
Israel first banned the entry of building materials intended for the private sector into the Gaza Strip following the violent takeover of Hamas in June 2007, citing concerns that such materials could be diverted for terrorist purposes.
The closure on the Strip was eased somewhat in 2010 at the behest of the International Quartet, and in late 2012 Israel began allowing in 20 trucks of gravel a day for private construction projects.
Since the July ouster of Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, a Hamas ally, Gaza has also been mostly cut off from Sinai in the south.
Following the coup, the Egyptian army destroyed hundreds of smuggling tunnels which had become the lifeblood of the enclave.