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Friday, December 10, 2010
Israel Improves Gaza Economy as Rocket Fire Continues
Israel recently approved the export of strawberries and flowers from Gaza to European markets, resulting in the export of 23 tons of the fruit and some 33,000 blossoms thus far.
Further exports are expected to focus on agriculture, furniture and textiles, according to a communiqué issued following Wednesday’s Security Cabinet meeting. The exports will be subject to security and logistical preparations at the Kerem Shalom crossing.
Rocket Fire Continues Unabated
Despite the improvement in Gaza’s economy and the loosening of restrictions at the crossings, terrorists in the Hamas-controlled region continue to aim rocket and mortar fire at southern Israel.
On Tuesday and early Wednesday, at least five short-range rockets and mortar shells were fired at western Negev communities. One man was rushed to Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva with moderate wounds from one of the attacks, and a house was damaged.
More than 200 of the Hamas-launched missiles and mortar shells have landed in Israel since the start of 2010. In November alone, there were 52 attacks by terrorists in Israel – a slight rise over the 44 in October.
Nearly Double the Deliveries through Kerem Shalom
While rocket fire has continued, so have deliveries of goods into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing, close to the spot where IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in June 2006. Shalit is still being held hostage in Gaza by Hamas; his exact whereabouts and condition are unknown.
Since June, there has been a 92 percent increase in the number of trucks delivering supplies daily to the region. The increase came after a decision made by the Security Cabinet to expand capacity at the Gaza crossings and expand operations to enable the processing of a greater volume of goods.
The decision included an order to enable and expand the inflow of dual use construction materials for approved projects authorized by the Palestinian Authority that are under international supervision.
In addition, Israel eliminated its list of permitted import materials, and instead published a list of prohibited items, thus vastly expanding the options for import by area business owners and humanitarian aid organizations. The list of items not permitted into Gaza has since been limited solely to weapons and war materiel, which includes problematic dual use items.
“Despite the expansion of the capacity of the land crossings, allowing 250 trucks to enter the Gaza Strip on a daily basis, in practice the Palestinians are not maximizing the capacity of the crossings,” security officials noted. Since the beginning of August there has been an average of only 176 trucks entering the region daily.
Approximately 1,500 truckloads (some 50,000 tons) of construction inputs have been delivered to Gaza for development projects financed and supervised by the international community. This, order to prevent the diversion of the inputs for use by the terrorist organizations, including the building up of their military strength.
More than 400 vehicles have also been delivered to the region for its private sector, and delivery of new products, which began in July, now constitute 32 percent of the overall goods that are delivered daily.
Currently 76 projects have been approved by Israel and are authorized by the Palestinian Authority. All are under international financing and supervision and carry an emphasis on education, infrastructure, health and housing.