“And the king said unto Barzillai: ‘Come thou over with me, and I will sustain thee with me in Jerusalem.'” II Samuel 19:34 (The Israel Bible™)
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon decided on Monday to open a second border crossing for the transfer of goods into the Gaza Strip. The opening of the Erez Crossing for supplies entering Gaza will alleviate pressure on the existing passageway for the thousand trucks per day that are currently forced to drive along narrow roads and disrupt the lives of residents of nearby communities.
The Erez Crossing is located at the northern Gaza border and is used primarily to allow people enter and exit the strip. The only border crossing used thus far to transfer the large amount of supplies into Gaza was the Kerem Shalom Crossing, located at the southernmost end of Israel’s border with Gaza, near the Egyptian border.
MK Haim Yellin (Yesh Atid), who previously served as head of the Eshkol Regional Council which borders Gaza, praised Ya’alon’s decision.
“Around 1,000 trucks make their way every day along the entire Gaza border to get to the Kerem Shalom Crossing,” said Yellin. “Opening the Erez Crossing for the transfer of goods to Gaza will reduce the pressure at the Kerem Shalom Crossing. It will also significantly reduce the number of trucks driving on the narrow and dangerous road, which is currently a ticking bomb.”
The current head of the Eshkol Regional Council, Gadi Yarkoni, has waged a public battle for the opening of a second border crossing together with Shai Hajaj, head of the nearby Merhavim Local Council.
“We have been leading a determined struggle over the past months to open a second crossing for goods in the north, in order to decrease the incredible amount of trucks riding on roads in the area and endangering the residents’ safety,” said the two in a joint statement.
“The defense minister updated us on the opening of the Erez Crossing for goods, to divert some of the trucks,” they added. “This decision indicates his firm support of the local communities in the region.”
Meanwhile, reports have emerged in Israeli media that Israel will renew its supply of cement to Gaza for use in private civilian projects.
According to the report in the Israeli site Ynet, the cement is meant to reconstruct thousands of civilian structures damaged or destroyed during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014 and to be used in aid and welfare projects in the coastal strip.
Israel stopped supplying cement to the Gaza private sector last month, due to attempts by Hamas to use the cement for military purposes, such as its elaborate “terror tunnel” project. Several weeks ago Israel uncovered a mile-long tunnel leading into Israel from Gaza, ostensibly designed by Hamas to kill or abduct Israelis.