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Israel says to allow some exports from Gaza

Sept. 20, 2012 10:33 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 24, 2012 8:41 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- An Israeli official said Thursday that military authorities have approved the entry of 100 million shekels from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip to assist with a liquidity crisis, amid a host of measures to facilitate the entry and exit of goods at Gaza crossings.

The Gaza Strip is under an Israeli land and sea blockade, and its sole border crossing not controlled by Israel, Egypt's Rafah terminal, is not equipped for the passage of goods.

Khatib Mansour, director of the Israeli army's Coordination and Liaison Administration for Gaza, said regular meetings with Palestinian representatives in Gaza had enabled Israel to approve several new measures.

He said the improvements will continue as long as border violence with Gaza militants remains under control. Israeli military forces shelled Gaza on Friday, killing two men it accused of involvement in attacks against Israel.

But Mansour said Israeli authorities had carefully studied the situation in Gaza, and on Sunday would allow the currency injection into the coastal strip.

He also said Israel will allow furniture and clothes to be exported from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. In May, Israel permitted the first export of clothes from Gaza to a foreign country in five years, as a truck carrying 2,000 pieces of mainly woolen garments was transferred via Israel to Britain.

Israeli legal center Gisha says sale of goods from Gaza to the West Bank and Israel has been prohibited since 2007, when Israel tightened its restrictions on Gaza when Hamas took power in the coastal strip.

Israel's blockade destroyed Gaza's export-dependent economy. The World Bank says the private sector will not recover until access to its traditional markets in Israel and the West Bank is restored.

On Thursday, the World Food Programme said it was transporting 1.2 million fortified date bars produced in Gaza to its West Bank school meals initiative, the second batch of an export sent from Gaza in March. Then, the WFP delivery was the first from Gaza to the West Bank in five years.

Mansour said Israel also approved materials for 16 road and school projects sponsored by international aid organizations in Gaza. Ten refrigerated trucks for transporting produce have also been cleared to enter Gaza, he continued.

After the next meeting between Palestinian and Israeli coordination bodies on Sunday, several products will be removed from a blacklist permitting their import to Gaza, Mansour added.

In recent reports ahead of a PA donor conference this month, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and United Nations have warned of a worsening economic crisis in both the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

"We should all be concerned about Gaza’s future if there is no change to the current untenable situation," UN special envoy Robert Serry said on Thursday.
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