World Bulletin/News Desk
Israel will close the Gaza Strip's only functioning commercial crossing, Kerem Shalom, for three days starting Thursday for the Jewish holidays, a Palestinian official has said.
"The Israelis told us that the crossing would close from Thursday to Sunday for the Sukkot holiday," Mounir al-Ghalban of Gaza's border authority told Anadolu Agency.
The announcement came only one day after Israel allowed construction materials into the Gaza Strip through the crossing for the first time in months.
Fifteen trucks carrying cement, ten carrying steel, and 50 carrying gravel entered Gaza on Tuesday, two days after an international conference concluded with pledges of financial support to rebuild the war-battered strip.
Al-Ghalban said that no deliveries of construction materials were due to enter Gaza on Wednesday, noting that only 127 trucks carrying agricultural and industrial goods – along with limited amounts of cooking gas and fuel – had been allowed in.
This summer, Israel pounded the Gaza Strip from air, land and sea for weeks – beginning July 7 – with the stated aim of degrading the military capabilities of Palestinian resistance factions.
More than 2,160 Gazans, mostly civilians, were killed – and 11,000 injured – during seven weeks of unrelenting Israeli attacks in July and August.
During the onslaught, 15,671 housing units across the coastal territory were damaged, including 2,276 that were totally destroyed, according to official Palestinian figures.
The Israeli offensive finally ended on August 26 with the announcement of an indefinite cease-fire arrangement.
The truce deal, brokered by Egypt, calls for reopening Gaza's border crossings with Israel – which, if implemented, would effectively end the latter's seven-year blockade of the territory – and expanding the area open to Palestinian fisherman.
According to the agreement's terms, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators will resume indirect talks on other core Palestinian demands – including the release of prisoners and the establishment of a Gaza seaport – later this month.
Donors attending Sunday's conference in Cairo pledged some $5.4 billion to the Palestinians, half of which will go towards rebuilding the devastated Gaza Strip.
For years, Israel has barred the entry of building materials into Gaza on grounds that Palestinian resistance faction Hamas could use them to build underground tunnels or fortifications.
The Gaza Strip has long depended on construction materials smuggled into the territory through a network of tunnels linking it to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
A recent crackdown on the tunnels by the Egyptian army, however, has effectively neutralized hundreds of tunnels, severely affecting Gaza's construction sector.
In September of last year, Israel allowed the entry of construction materials into the besieged coastal enclave for the first time in six years.
The following month, however, Israeli authorities suspended deliveries after finding an underground tunnel extending from the Gaza Strip into Israel.Güncelleme Tarihi: 15 Ekim 2014, 13:33