Israel allowed a limited resumption of trade exports from the besieged Gaza Strip in what it called a “conditional” measure, a month after a truce ended an 11-day offensive on the Strip.
“Following a security assessment, a decision was taken for the first time since the end (of the fighting) to allow (…) (the) limited export of agricultural products from the Gaza Strip,” said COGAT, a branch of the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Monday.
COGAT said the measure was approved by the government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and was “conditional on maintaining a stable security”.
Palestinian officials, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said 11 trucks of clothes were exported through the Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing for the first time in 40 days. Israel said on Sunday it would allow limited agricultural exports from Gaza.
The easing also included the resumption of postal service to and from Gaza, according to Saleh al-Zeq, an official of the Palestinian Authority liaison committee. Thousands of passports and papers have been delayed since fighting between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian group that rules Gaza, erupted on May 10.
However, other restrictions imposed by Israel remain in place and wreak havoc in various areas of Gaza.
On Monday, a Pepsi bottling plant announced it was shutting down and laying off 250 workers because the raw materials needed to stay in business were being kept out. Instead, the company will import ready-made products from its factory in the occupied West Bank.
“The raw materials were not allowed. We have been waiting for them for 60 days, ”said Hammam Alyazji, head of plant development. The materials include carbon dioxide and syrup.
The resumption of exports does not include fish, said Nezzar Ayyash of the fishermen’s union. He said Israel had cut fishing by more than half, keeping it at six nautical miles (11 kilometers) instead of 20 miles (37 km), as agreed in the Oslo accords.
“It’s very bad for the lives of fishermen; purchasing power is low in Gaza and fishermen barely compensate for their fuel costs, ”he said.
Other restrictions include a limit on the number of medical patients who can receive treatment in Israel or the occupied West Bank.
“No intention to resolve the humanitarian crisis”
Following a meeting with United Nations mediators, Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya al-Sinwar said easing Israeli restrictions was not enough and did nothing to change the situation in Gaza , stressing that Israel continues to block international aid, as well as necessary fuel deliveries to the power plant.
“The meeting was bad, it was not at all positive,” he told reporters.
“They listened to us attentively, but there is no indication that there are intentions to resolve the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip,” Sinwar added.
He added that Israel was “blackmailing” Hamas in exchange for further lifting the restrictions.
Sinwar was apparently referring to Israel’s position that a major improvement in Gaza depended on Hamas releasing two Israelis and the bodies of two soldiers it is holding captive. Sinwar said he told the UN’s chief regional envoy, Tor Wennesland, that Hamas “will not agree to this”.
Israel maintains strict controls at Gaza crossings, with support from neighboring Egypt, citing threats from Hamas. Israeli restrictions were intensified during the fighting in May, effectively halting all exports.
Sinwar also accused Israel of refusing aid from Qatar, which in recent years has funded reconstruction projects in Gaza worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
“It seems that the occupation (Israel) has not understood our message, and that we may have to carry out popular resistance to put pressure on the occupation,” Sinwar said.
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett did not comment on Sinwar’s comments.
At a Sunday memorial service for Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war, Bennett, who was sworn in last week and replaced longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Israel will not tolerate any resumption hostilities.
“(We) won’t even tolerate a few rockets. We will not show tolerance or exercise containment towards dissident factions, ”he said, referring to past attacks by armed groups other than Hamas.
“Our patience is running out. “
Egypt and the United Nations stepped up their mediation last week after Israeli airstrikes bombed the Gaza Strip, undermining the fragile ceasefire.
The war killed 257 Palestinians including 66 children. Thirteen people were killed in Israel, including two children.