Conflict & Justice

In a first since 2007, Israel allows building materials into Gaza


A Palestinian worker checks a truck loaded with bags of cement after it crossed into Rafah town through the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip on Sept. 22, 2013. Israel permitted delivery of cement and steel for use by the private sector into the Gaza Strip for the first time since 2007.



For the first time in six years, Israel allowed building materials meant for private projects into Gaza on Sunday.

At least 70 truckloads of cement, gravel and iron passed through the border following a request from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Raed Fattouh, the Palestinian Authority liaison at the Kerem Shalom crossing, told AFP.

More from GlobalPost: Gaza blockade: Israel eases building materials ban

Gaza has been struggling with a shortage of building materials that has worsened since July, when the Egyptian military began a crackdown on tunnels used to smuggle goods and weapons into the Palestinian enclave.

Israeli defense officials announced plans last week to allow 350 truckloads a week of gravel, cement and steel into Gaza for private building projects, lifting a ban imposed in 2007 following the abduction of an Israeli soldier and Palestinian rocket attacks.

Israelis feared Hamas rulers would use such materials to build tunnels and other fortifications to aid in attacks on the Jewish state.

More from GlobalPost: Israel to allow more building materials into Gaza

Israel eased the blockade in 2010 with the exception of building materials.

It further lifted some restrictions at the end of last year. 

Israeli NGO Gisha, which lobbies for freedom of movement for Palestinians, welcomed the limited resumption of supplies but called them insufficient.

"Gaza is in need of up to 400 trucks of gravel, 200 trucks of cement and 100 trucks of steel every day. We have been urging the Israeli side to increase the working hours at the crossing to allow more goods to enter," Fattouh told Reuters.