- Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed
- Mississippi abortion law can’t be enforced
- Teacher who survived Sandy Hook has book deal
- Jury awards Jesse Ventura $1.8M in case vs. ‘American Sniper’ author Chris Kyle
- Middle Eastern firm’s deal to manage U.S. cargo port raises security concerns
- Bob McDonnell’s defense: Lonely wife developed ‘crush’ on CEO
- Chinese hackers stole ‘huge quantities’ of sensitive data on Israel’s Iron Dome
- House Republicans unveil bill to speed deportations of border children
- Californians protest middle school for hiring white man to teach cultural studies
- Killer’s sentencing overturned because mother couldn’t find seat in courtroom
Gaza unlikely trade partner with Israel
Israel a top supplier to Hamas-ruled territory; flow of goods is growing
Question of the Day
KEREM SHALOM CROSSING, ISRAEL | Each day, dozens of trucks move food, consumer products and industrial materials into the Gaza Strip at this heavily fortified crossing, in an odd arrangement that has turned Israel into a key supplier to a territory governed by its bitter enemy Hamas.
Despite frequent fighting along this volatile border, business at the Kerem Shalom crossing has picked up greatly over the past 1 1/2 years, though it remains a fraction of historical standards. Israel says it plans a further expansion here by mid-2012.
Kerem Shalom - the sole cargo passage into Gaza - is an economic lifeline for the territory’s impoverished 1.6 million people, providing the vast majority of consumer goods.
For Israel, it is a key tool in maintaining a tense truce that has largely held up since a devastating Israeli military offensive in Gaza more than three years ago. With clashes taking place regularly along the volatile border, critics also accuse Israel of using commerce to control and even punish the area.
Kamil Abu Rukun, the senior Israeli Defense Ministry official who oversees all of the country’s border crossings with the Palestinians, rejected such notions. He said the development of the cargo terminal is a shared Israeli and Palestinian interest and that security concerns are the main factor limiting trade.
“These people have been connected to us for many years, with economic and business ties,” he said. “For humane and humanitarian reasons, we think we must let them get what they need.”
Increased prosperity in Gaza also could reduce militant activity, he said. “I believe that people who can make a decent living think about making a living and not about other things.”
This thinking represents a dramatic, if reluctant, turnabout by Israel, which along with Egypt clamped a tight blockade on Gaza after Hamas overran the area in June 2007. The blockade was meant to weaken Hamas but didn’t.
Israel changed its policy toward Gaza after a deadly June 2010 raid on an international flotilla trying to bust the blockade. Under heavy criticism, Israel lifted all restrictions on consumer goods, though it kept a ban on materials like cement and metals that it says could be used by Hamas to build fortifications or aid attacks on Israel.
In the meantime, Israel has closed three other cargo crossings into Gaza and consolidated all operations at the expanded Kerem Shalom facility.
Today, about 4,500 truckloads of goods go into Gaza each month. That’s higher than 2,500 truckloads before the flotilla raid, according to military and U.N. figures, but well below 2005 levels averaging 10,400 truckloads at all crossings each month.
Mr. Abu Rukun said that new equipment and technology will boost the flow of goods into Gaza by about 50 percent from current levels by mid-2012. He also expects exports to begin flowing more freely out of Gaza at that time.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
TWT Video Picks
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
- McCLAUGHRY: Finish off the "Islamic State" quickly and cheaply
- Obama's brother wears Hamas scarf bearing anti-Israel slogans in photo
- Boehner rules out impeachment: 'Scam started by Democrats'
- Obama: 'Not a new Cold War,' but new Russia sanctions announced
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- HUSAIN: Fleeing Iraqi Christians find safe haven at the Shrine of Imam Ali
- White House says Russia 'losing' war in Ukraine
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world