Israel to allow cement into Gaza Strip: Local media

By Kaamil Ahmed

JERUSALEM (AA) – Israel this week will end a ban on cement entering the Gaza Strip to allow for the reconstruction of homes destroyed during its 51-day onslaught on the blockaded territory in 2014, local media has reported.

Israeli Radio quoted unnamed security officials on Tuesday as saying the move was a goodwill gesture aimed at Turkey.

Ankara has repeatedly called on the Jewish state to lift its almost decade-long blockade of the Gaza Strip within the context of dialogue between Turkey and Israel aimed at restoring full diplomatic relations.

The Israeli move follows criticisms leveled by the UN last week that Israel’s longstanding ban on cement had crippled Gaza’s construction sector and prevented thousands of families from rebuilding their destroyed homes.

In April, Israel suspended entry of cement intended for private projects in Gaza, accusing Palestinian resistance movement Hamas — which has governed the enclave since 2007 — of using cement imports for its own purposes.

In a Monday statement, Hamas asserted that the Israeli allegations were “fabricated” and intended to “justify tightening the noose on the Gaza Strip”.

The Times of Israel reported on Monday that Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon had also announced the reopening of the Erez border crossing, which links the northern Gaza Strip to Israel, for commercial purposes.