Tuesday, December 03, 2013

  • Tuesday, December 03, 2013
  • Elder of Ziyon
From Ha'aretz:
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has belatedly adopted recommendations by professional echelons of the defense establishment and is now allowing the transfer of building materials into Gaza for some large construction projects coordinated by international organizations.

Officials in the office of the coordinator of activities in the occupied territories have warned that continuing the prohibition on transferring construction materials to Gaza would lead to the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in the Strip and adversely affect security.

Ya’alon initially believed that the warnings were overstated, and that Israel should continue exacting a price from Hamas, following the discovery of the cross-border tunnel in the Western Negev. After further deliberation, Ya’alon has decided to partially adopt the recommendations, instructing the co-ordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, to prepare a plan for the partial removal of Israeli sanctions in the coming days, coordinated with the UN.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon recently talked to Ya’alon by phone to request that he approve the transfer of the materials, and even Egypt, whose actions brought about the present crisis, has made a similar appeal (even though it won’t change its own embargo.)

Ya’alon will only permit a partial easing, allowing the transport of materials needed for projects led by the UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) and other international groups. In the past, Israel allowed in materials for such projects, believing that supervision would be tight and that none would ‘leak’ to Hamas for construction of fortifications. Ya’alon’s decision may also be linked to this week’s visit to Israel by United States Secretary of State John Kerry.

Defense sources told Haaretz that Ya’alon would not permit the transfer of materials beyond those needed for these specific projects, out of concern that they would serve for construction of additional offensive tunnels. Israel is worried that further deterioration in Gaza’s economy will make it harder for Hamas to restrain the smaller organizations and to enforce the ceasefire with Israel.
This is appropriate, as it mirrors the previous policy and I am unaware of any claim that construction materials for UNRWA and similar projects have been diverted by Hamas. They might complain privately if it happened, but the rumors would hit the anti-Hamas media.

It is funny that Egypt is appealing to Israel to allow this material in. Under the previous Egyptian regime, construction material was transferred directly via the Rafah crossing at times, and there is nothing stopping Egypt from resuming that practice.

Apparently, Egypt has security concerns with Hamas in Gaza. Imagine that.

There was a recent rumor that some cement, paid for by Qatar, was still entering Gaza via Rafah, but I have not seen that confirmed. This report would seem to contradict that.



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