Ramallah to assume control of Gaza-Israel border crossings

Palestinian government technicians plan to begin managing the transfer of construction materials and individuals through the two border crossings with Israel.

Ramallah to assume control of Gaza-Israel border crossings

World Bulletin/News Desk

The Ramallah-based Palestinian unity government will officially assume responsibility for the administration of the Gaza Strip's borders with Israel within two days, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported Friday.

"Logistical arrangements are being finalized to manage the Karam Abu Salem [Kerem Shalom] and Erez crossings," Mohamed Mustafa, deputy prime minister and minister of economics in the Palestinian government, was quoted as saying by the news agency.

He reportedly said that, by Sunday, Palestinian government technicians would begin managing the transfer of construction materials and individuals through the two border crossings with Israel.

Mustafa, along with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, will attend an international donor conference devoted to reconstruction of the war-battered Gaza Strip, set to take place in Cairo on Sunday.

Fifty countries have confirmed their attendance at the conference, according to a statement issued earlier this week by Egypt's Foreign Ministry.

According to Mustafa, Israel "will not have any role or representatives" at the conference.

Mustafa had earlier told Anadolu Agency that Ramallah was "not in favor of" importing construction material from Israel.

Mustafa's latest statements come one day after Hamdallah chaired the Palestinian unity government's weekly meeting in the Gaza Strip for the first time since it was drawn up in June.

Since 2007, Palestinian resistance faction Hamas has been in de facto control of the Gaza Strip.

The donor conference, chaired by Egypt and Norway, comes some six weeks after a ceasefire deal – signed in Cairo on August 26 by Palestinian and Israeli negotiators – ended a devastating 51-day Israeli military onslaught on the coastal strip.

The offensive left more than 2,150 Palestinians dead and some 11,000 others injured – the vast majority of them civilians – while destroying residential structures and large swathes of infrastructure across the embattled territory.

According to Israeli figures, 67 Israeli soldiers and five civilians were killed over the same period – the highest military death toll suffered by the self-proclaimed Jewish state since it lost 119 troops in its 2006 war on Lebanon.

Home to 1.8 million Palestinians, the Gaza Strip has reeled under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2006.

The siege was tightened further after Hamas – dubbed a "terrorist group" by Israel – wrested control of the strip from rival faction Fatah in 2007.

Blockaded by Israel – by air, land and sea – since 2007, the Gaza Strip has seven border crossings linking it to the outside world.

Six of these crossings are controlled by Israel, while a seventh – the Rafah crossing – is controlled by Egypt, which keeps the terminal tightly sealed for the most part.

Israeli authorities have allowed the Kerem Shalom crossing – which links Gaza to both Israel and Egypt – to operate for commercial purposes.

The Gaza-Israel Erez crossing (controlled by the latter), meanwhile, is generally devoted to the movement of individuals between blockaded Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

Last Mod: 11 Ekim 2014, 11:25
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