By R. Blum
A record was broken this year, with more deliveries entering Gaza from Israel than ever before, the Hebrew news site Walla reports.
According to the report, in the first half of 2016, a whopping 88,800 trucks of goods were transferred to the Hamas-controlled enclave through the Kerem Shalom border crossing in southern Gaza. This phenomenon, said Walla, is connected partially to the thawing of relations between Israel and Turkey.
Though the reconciliation agreement reached by the two neighboring countries in June – and ratified by the Turkish parliament last week – has not resolved tensions over what Turkey considers to be an unjust Israeli naval blockade, Israel has nevertheless been encouraging Turkish aid to Gaza. This, said Walla, is due to waning donations from other countries for the rehabilitation of the Strip, following the damage that was done during Operation Protective Edge two years ago. Turkey, it added, recently transferred funds to Gaza for 11 different projects, among them the erection of mosques, orphanages and community centers.
However, the report claimed, Israel has also conveyed clearly to Turkey that goods may enter Gaza only after they have undergone thorough inspection at the border. Among items forbidden from entering the Strip, Israel clarified, are equipment and technology that could be used by Hamas for military purposes. In addition, despite Hamas attempts over the past year to smuggle in material for tunnel-construction and other terrorist infrastructure, no restrictions were imposed on the number of trucks allowed to enter Gaza from Israel – a policy supported by recently appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Furthermore, a new plan being considered by the defense establishment is the opening of the Erez Crossing in northern Gaza to the entry of trucks. Until now, it has been used for pedestrian passage alone.
The rift between former close allies Jerusalem and Ankara began in 2010, when a flotilla filled with radical Turkish and other activists — claiming to be delivering humanitarian goods to Gaza — set out to violate Israel’s naval blockade on the Strip. As the “Free Gaza” flotilla entered Israeli waters, IDF commandos attempting to stop it from continuing were assaulted on one of its ships, the Mavi Marmara. When they fought back, nine activists were killed (a 10th died later of his wounds).
Part of the reconciliation deal involves Israel’s paying $20 million in compensation to the families of those Turks killed or injured on the Mavi Marmara.
Israel continues to maintain that it never prevented humanitarian goods from entering Gaza, but rather was restricting the flow of materials used by Hamas for terrorist purposes. According to Walla, the Defense Ministry is pointing to its data on the number of trucks entering the terrorist-run enclave — amounting to 700 per day — to prove its assertion.
(c) 2016 The Algemeiner Journal