Israel-Gaza border closed due to Hamas’ refusal to pay transport fees

Israel’s refusal to cut cost of transporting goods through Karm Abu Salem border crossing, resulting in temporary closure.

By KHALED ABU TOAMEH

 

Hamas said Monday that Israel closed the Karm Abu Salem border crossing because the Hamas-run Ministry of Economy had asked that the cost of delivering goods be reduced.

Hatem Uwaidah, a senior official with the ministry, claimed that the cost of transporting goods through the border crossing was 1200 NIS.

He said that 700 NIS of the fee goes to Israel, while the remaining 500 NIS go to the Hamas government.

Israel, he added, is refusing to lower the cost of transporting goods or discuss other proposals to facilitate the work at the border crossing.

“For the past five years, we have been trying to solve the issue of the high cost of the fees, which are unrealistic,” he said.

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Karm Abu Salem border crossing – Google Earth maps

Uwaidah demanded the publication of a tender to select a private company that would replace the present ones and be in charge of transporting merchandise at the border crossing.
He said that the border crossing would reopen Tuesday for the transportation of goods.

 

View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=305283

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MORE FROM: Lilach Shoval and the Israel Hayom Staff

Israel decided to reopen the Kerem Shalom crossing with the Gaza Strip on Monday, but the Palestinian contractor responsible for running the Gaza side of the crossing did not show up, leaving 65 trucks carrying goods stuck at the border, a spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said.

According to COGAT, Hamas wants to bring its own contractor to run the crossing, rather than the current one who was chosen by the Palestinian Authority. Hamas is trying to leverage its profits over those of the Palestinian Authority, COGAT said.

“This decision by Hamas violates the security status quo and threatens the continued proper operation of the crossing and the security arrangements,” COGAT said.

The head of COGAT, Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, spoke with Palestinian Authority officials on Monday morning about the situation. Maj. Gen. Dangot said that Israel would be willing to transfer the goods that were stuck at the border should the Palestinian Authority contractor decide to return to work.

Israel closed the Kerem Shalom crossing last week following the firing of a rocket last Tuesday from Gaza toward Ashkelon. That rocket was the first to strike Israel from Gaza since the end of Operation Pillar of Defense in November.

Ilan Eshel, who heads the Organization of Fruit Growers in Israel, said that Hamas was harming its own people by blocking the Kerem Shalom crossing.

A Palestinian customs worker checks a truck loaded with boxes of strawberries at the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel & Gaza – Photo: AP

Eshel said fruit prices in Gaza would rise as a result of the continued closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing.

Each day the crossing is closed costs hundreds of thousands of shekels, Eshel said, due to fruit that goes to waste and the transport costs for trucks that get stuck at the border.

View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=7701

 

 

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