Israel to allow delivery of building supplies into Gaza Strip
Israel has told Palestinians in Gaza that it will allow the delivery of construction material into the blockaded enclave for the first time this year, a senior Palestinian border official told journalists on Thursday, reported RIA Novosti.
The deficit of building materials has been felt in the enclave for two years and the situation became acute following Israel's offensive on the Gaza Strip in January, which saw around 50,000 buildings destroyed. The shortage of materials has prevented any reconstruction of homes and buildings.
Israeli authorities said the cement, metal pipes, reinforcement rods and other materials will be delivered to regional UN officials in the area overseeing reconstruction of priority infrastructure projects, including the enclave's largest flour mill and a water treatment plant.
Israel also said that this would be a one-time delivery and the blockade on the enclave would continue until Palestinian militants hand over Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who was captured in June 2006 by Hamas groups near the Gaza border.
Israel on Tuesday allowed a shipment of automobile gasoline for general sale into the Gaza Strip for the first time in 10 months. Palestinians had managed with reduced supplies by smuggling Egyptian gasoline, which is half the price of Israeli gasoline, through tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border.
Israel has maintained an almost continual blockade on Gaza since Hamas seized power from the Fatah movement in June 2007. The 1.5 million Gaza residents suffer from severe shortages of medicine, food and fuel.