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Israel refuses to allow construction material into besieged Gaza Strip

Middle East Monitor

December 19, 2013

Ignoring a UN demand, Israel's Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon has refused to allow construction and other raw materials to enter the besieged Gaza Strip, Maariv reported on Wednesday. The newspaper said that Yaalon rejected the UN demand on the pretext that construction materials are being used to build tunnels to kill Israelis.

"Ban Ki-moon asked me and I told him that the side which uses cement to build tunnels in order to attack Israel and kill Israelis is not reliable," Yaalon said. "The Hamas government in Gaza is able to take a decision to plant strawberries instead of building rockets. When there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, people have to send their demands to Ismail Haniyeh."

Israel has been imposing a sea and ground siege on the Gaza Strip since 2006. It banned imports and exports to and from the Gaza Strip until the beginning of 2009, when it went to war against the people of Gaza, killing more than 1,400 Palestinians and wounding 5,000 others. International pressure led to Israel easing the siege slightly, but it only allowed construction materials for projects carried out by international organisations such as UNRWA. In 2012, Israel attacked Gaza again and destroyed much of the infrastructure, including houses, mosques, clinics and schools.

Severe restrictions on fuel, cooking gas, medical equipment and medicines, and all other day-to-day essentials, are in place. Between 2006 and 2010, a number of attempts were made by international activists to break the siege by sea. In 2010, Israel attacked a flotilla of ships in international waters; its commandos killed nine activists and wounded many more.

Although some restrictions on construction materials were lifted by Israel a few months ago, the discovery of a tunnel from Gaza led to another clampdown on imports. The Israelis claimed that the tunnel would be used to attack and kidnap their citizens.



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