Report: For the first time since 2007, Israel will allow cement and iron to be transferred to the private sector in Gaza

Photo: Eman Mohammed

September 17, 2013: The Kerem Shalom crossing will be closed from Wednesday because of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. It will be re-opened on Sunday, when, according to Palestinian sources, Israel will increase the entry of construction materials destined for the private sector to 70 truckloads per day. Until now, Israel has approved the transfer of 20 truckloads of gravel per day to the private sector in Gaza. According to the latest reports, from Sunday, Israel will permit the transfer of 40 truckloads of gravel, 20 truckloads of cement and 10 truckloads of iron every day.  

From mid-2007, Israel prevented the transfer of construction materials to Gaza's private sector. At the end of 2012, the security establishment began allowing 20 truckloads of gravel, destined for the private sector, to enter the Strip per day. Private contractors only needed to complete a simple check in order to bring in this gravel, whereas international organizations are still required to undergo a much more complex process in order to transfer construction materials. During the first half of 2013, an average of 190 truckloads of construction materials were transferred to the Strip each day through the tunnels – a quantity 2.7 times greater than that which Israel permitted to enter.    
In addition, the Rafah crossing will be opened on Wednesday and Thursday to patients, students studying abroad and for humanitarian cases. The crossing has been closed since last Wednesday, following further violence in Sinai. Yesterday, students from Gaza who are unable to travel to their studies, held protests at the crossing.  
According to Palestinian sources, around 800 students from Gaza are currently unable to reach their studies because of the closure of Rafah. Similarly, some 5,000 individuals, who meet criteria for travel via Rafah and are registered at Gaza's Ministry of Interior, remain stranded in Gaza. At least 600 Gaza residents who are currently abroad, are unable to return to Gaza because of Rafah's closure – included among them are patents who traveled to Egypt for medical treatment.