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Venezuela to send aid for Gaza rehabilitation

Plane carrying tons of humanitarian goods to be transferred via the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank

Palestinian women bake bread amid the rubble of their destroyed home in the town of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, September 21, 2014. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Palestinian women bake bread amid the rubble of their destroyed home in the town of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, September 21, 2014. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

A plane loaded with tons of supplies designated for the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip was set to take off from Venezuela Sunday, as Caracas became the latest capital to offer aid to the embattled Palestinian territory.

The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said the goods would be sent directly to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and then be transferred to the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave in the coming days, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported.

The report came as Israeli officials said the two crossings into Gaza would be closed Sunday in response to rocket fire aimed at southern Israel on Friday.

It was not clear if the transfer had been coordinated with Israel. Venezuela, which is one of the Palestinians’ staunchest allies in the Americas, maintains only low-level ties with Israel.

The Gaza Strip was devastated following the July-August conflict this year between Israel and Hamas-led fighters.

Some 2,000 Palestinians were killed, according to the Hamas government — Israel says about 1,000 were Hamas and other gunmen — as well as 72 people on the Israeli side, 66 of them soldiers.

The conflict also destroyed tens of thousands of houses in the impoverished Strip, as well as key infrastructure, and left some 100,000 Gazans homeless.

Last month, the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA issued its largest ever appeal for $1.6 billion to help rehabilitate the Strip.

Senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar has criticized Israel for allegedly delaying the entry of construction materials into Gaza and warned that if the rehabilitation process in the Palestinian enclave does not speed up and become more efficient, the situation in the Strip may “erupt.”

On Friday, the IDF detected a rocket launch from the Gaza Strip, a rare incident since Operation Protective Edge concluded two months ago. Military officials initially said the rocket fell inside Gaza territory and thus did not trigger warning sirens in the surrounding Israeli communities. However, the IDF later contended that the rocket had actually fallen within Eshkol Regional Council territory, Israel Radio reported.

There was no word on who was responsible for the launch.

AFP and Adiv Sterman contributed to this report.

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