Despite Hamas Appropriation for Terrorist Purposes, Israel, UN and PA Restore Full Quantity of Construction Materials Entering Gaza
The amount of construction materials transferred into Gaza will be restored to its original scope, due to a decision reached by Israel, the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority, the Hebrew news site Walla reported on Thursday.
According to the report, during a recent meeting between the head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), UN representatives and PA Minister of Public Works Mufeed al-Hasayneh, the sides committed to enhance the monitoring of and enforcement surrounding the quantity and use of the building materials entering Gaza. This, they concluded, would enable the amount going into the Hamas-controlled Strip to gradually return to its previous level.
This came in the wake of last month’s decision to cut the amount of material entering Gaza in half, after reports emerged that much of it had been appropriated by Hamas for military (i.e. terrorist) aims, rather than for its original purpose, which was to rehabilitate Gaza after the damage incurred during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.
Over the past few months, there have been at least seven incidents of Hamas tunnel collapses, in which a number of operatives were killed. According to Walla, this sparked Palestinian media outlets to suggest this was partially due to the shortage of cement with which to produce concrete – which makes it harder to reinforce the tunnels while they are being dug.
During the three-way meeting with UN officials, it was revealed that locals charged with supervising the use of construction materials in Gaza are regularly subjected to threats by Hamas and other groups trying to get their hands on the materials.
COGAT told Walla that the mechanism for monitoring the entry of materials into Gaza is being reexamined. Supervision of the process will be enhanced, partly by PA Minister al-Hasayneh. At the same time, COGAT stated, the rehabilitation of Gaza is proceeding as planned, with more than 100,000 family homes damaged during the war — out of a total of 130,000 — in the final stages of renovation. In addition, according to COGAT, about 6,000 new homes have been built; 72 international projects completed; 332 in advanced stages; and more than 200 — in the fields of medicine, infrastructure, education, welfare and others — in the testing phase.
Hamas has expressed support for the surge in Palestinian terrorism that has rocked Israeli without let-up for the last six months. It has also issued threats to kidnap and kill Israelis through the tunnels it boasts rebuilding.
Israelis in communities bordering Gaza have complained about hearing noises under their homes, which they say sounds like digging and hammering. The IDF has said it investigates each such complaint, but so far has not found evidence of the tunnels reaching that far into Israel. Hamas has claimed, however, that Operation Protective Edge, which was launched to destroy its rocket and tunnel infrastructure, that it is restoring its military capabilities.
On Tuesday, as The Algemeiner reported, Hamas conducted massive military drills, purportedly to test its readiness for the next war with Israel.