Israel and the Palestinian Authority reached an agreement to allow the import of cars, vans, and trucks into Gaza through the Erez Crossing near the north Gazan city of Beit Hanun for the first time since 2007.
Up until now, Israel had only allowed the import of cars and a limited number of vans and trucks into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom Crossing on the southeastern Gazan border. According to the agreement, the first import through the Erez Crossing will take place next Thursday and thereafter every Tuesday and Thursday.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Mohammed al-Maqadma, the media director at the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Civil Affairs, said the agreement will benefit Palestinians in Gaza. “Many of the existing cars, buses, and trucks in Gaza are inoperable. The entry of new buses, vans, and trucks seeks to address that issue,” he said.
Maqadma added that Israel does not want the Gazan economy to suffer. “In one way or another, I believe Israel wants economic activity in Gaza to be stable and does not want the Gazan economy to come to a complete halt,” he said. However, he added that the general process for goods entering Gaza is slow and limited.
Saed al-Muqdi, an official at the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Transportation, told the Post that Israel has always allowed the import of cars through the Kerem Shalom Crossing and a very limited number of buses and trucks since 2013. “In 2013, the Israeli side allowed the entry of 28 trucks and 30 buses and in 2015, 220 trucks and 40 buses,” he said.
Nonetheless, Muqdi said that the previous imports did not come close to meeting the need in Gaza. “The amount of buses and trucks that have entered Gaza since 2007 is far less than the amount needed. Gaza needs 3000 trucks and 200 buses,” he remarked.
Muqdi stated further that he hopes the agreement will allow for Gaza to meet its transportation needs.
The Coordinator of Government Affairs in the Territories, the wing of the IDF responsible for coordinating security and civil matters with the PA, did not reply to a request for comment by press time.
Since the end of Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, many Israeli generals have said that it is in Israel’s interest to facilitate reconstruction and the bettering of economic conditions in Gaza, regardless of who rules the coastal enclave.