Gaza Cement Deliveries Resume After Israel Lifts Ban

Gaza, 15 Sha’ban 1437/23 May 2016 (MINA) – Private cement deliveries to the Gaza Strip resumed on Monday after Israel lifted a nearly two-month ban it imposed over the alleged diversion of materials by an official in the Palestinian territory.

Israel imposed the ban in early April in the territory run by Palestinian resistance movement Hamas which is still rebuilding after a devastating 2014 war. World Bulletin quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

The ban affected private providers, meaning Qatar, a major donor to Gazan reconstruction, and the United Nations were still able to bring in cement to Gaza, under an Israeli blockade for nearly a decade.

Raed Fattouh, who oversees the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip, said private deliveries had resumed for the first time since April 3.

“We are expecting 90 trucks transporting around 3,200 tonnes of cement, in compliance with the mechanism put in place by the UN, and deliveries will continue every day of the week,” he said.

Israel said late Sunday it was lifting the ban “in accordance with the security assessment and the understandings reached with the international community”.

It had imposed the ban after accusing Imad al-Baz, deputy director of the Hamas economy ministry, of diverting supplies, which he denied.

Israel restricts the entry of goods into Gaza out of fears they will be used for weaponry or to build tunnels that can be used for attacks.

Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008.

UN officials point out that cement deliveries are vital to Gaza’s reconstruction and pushed for the ban to be lifted.

Nickolay Mladenov, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, welcomed Israel’s decision to lift the ban.

“It is critical for the security of both Palestinians and Israelis that Gaza remains calm and hope is restored to its people,” he said. (T/P002/R07)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)