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August 14, 2018 2:54 pm

Israel Says Commercial Goods Traffic to Gaza to Resume if Calm Holds

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The Kerem Shalom border crossing terminal between Israel and Gaza Strip, Jan. 16, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen / File.

Israel said it would allow commercial goods back into the Gaza Strip on Wednesday if the border remained quiet, lifting a ban imposed last month in response to incendiary balloons launched by Palestinians across the frontier.

The decision, announced on Tuesday, coincided with Egyptian efforts to achieve a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian enclave’s dominant armed faction.

“If the calm that has prevailed since the beginning of the week will be maintained until tomorrow morning, the Kerem Shalom crossing will open tomorrow at 9 a.m. (0600 GMT) and the fishing limit will be increased to nine miles from the shore,” the Israeli Defense Ministry said.

Palestinian officials who coordinate with Israel on supplies to the Gaza Strip said all commercial goods that had been allowed through Kerem Shalom prior to the July 9 ban could again be brought into the territory of two million people.

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Izzat Risheq, a Hamas official, said Palestinian factions were due to meet in Cairo on Tuesday to discuss terms for a truce.

Last week, Palestinian terrorists fired scores of rockets into southern Israel and Israeli aircraft struck more than 150 targets in Gaza before Egypt mediated a de facto ceasefire.

The fighting has since died down and there have been fewer reports of balloons and kites with flammable material floating across from Gaza into southern Israel, where large tracts of farmland and forests have been burned in recent months.

Egypt and the United Nations have been trying to mediate a comprehensive truce to prevent another escalation in fighting and to ease the deep economic hardship in Gaza.

Israel‘s finance minister confirmed on Tuesday an Israeli Channel Ten television report that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt in May over the Gaza situation.

During their May 22 meeting, Netanyahu and Sisi discussed the easing of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza, rehabilitation of its infrastructure and terms for a ceasefire, the Channel Ten report said.

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