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June 28, 2021 5:35 pm

Israel Allows Fuel Tankers Into Gaza as PM Presses Egypt on Return of Captives Held in Strip

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

A fuel tanker for Gaza’s sole power plant arrives while flying Qatari flags in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip June 28, 2021. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Qatar-funded fuel tankers began entering the Gaza Strip on Monday for the first time since the end of last month’s fighting between Israel and the Hamas terror group, as Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett discussed the importance of the return of Israelis held in Gaza with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.

The entry of gasoline to Gaza’s power plant had been temporarily halted as Hamas rockets were fired at Israel and explosive balloons were sent into the country. On Monday, Israel allowed the transfer of fuels to Gaza’s power plant through the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

COGAT, a branch of Israel’s defense ministry, said the resumption follows the transfer of fuels to the private sector.

“The decision was made following a security assessment in that matter and approved by the political echelon, and is conditional upon the preservation of security stability,” COGAT stated.

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Tor Wennesland, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process said: “I welcome all steps taken to de-escalate situation. The UN will continue to work with all concerned parties and partners to solidify a ceasefire and help the people of Gaza.”

The easing of restrictions comes as Bennett spoke with Egypt’s Sisi for the first time since taking office, thanking him for his country’s role in establishing stability, security and peace in the region — as well as on the Palestinian issue, emphasizing efforts to secure the Israeli captives and the bodies of Israeli soldiers held in Gaza.

“Reciprocity demands return of deceased soldiers and civilians held in 7-year violation of human rights,” commented Michal Cotler-Wunsh, a former member of Knesset for Israel’s Blue and White Party. “UN and trustees of international law mandated to uphold and protect, must hold and be held to account for enabling culture of impunity, empowering violators and undermining foundational principles.”

During the call with Bennett, Sisi emphasized the need to establish the ceasefire and resume the diplomatic process in the Gaza Strip to help improve the civil and humanitarian situation of its residents, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Separately, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said it was “good to meet” with Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Rome. The two spoke about advancing regional security and stability, and building international support for humanitarian and development efforts in Gaza.

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