Israel said to ask Egypt to halt entry of cement, building materials into Gaza

Israel has reportedly asked Egypt to prevent the entry to Gaza of cement and other building materials that could be diverted by Palestinian terror groups for military use.

Following the 11 days of intense fighting last month between the Israeli military and the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers, Israel has been seeking to ensure that so-called dual-use products entering the coastal enclave are not used by terror groups to rearm.

Still, goods have been flowing through the Salah-a-Din gate of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt three days a week without any monitoring, the Kan public broadcaster reported Wednesday. Among the goods reportedly entering Gaza through the crossing were cement, building supplies and fuel.

Israeli officials are hoping to meet with their Egyptian counterparts on the matter, having recognized that without monitoring of the goods entering Gaza, there is no way to block Hamas from rebuilding its military capabilities, the report said.

Egyptian workers stand in the shovel-blade of a bulldozer provided by Egypt, arriving at the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Palestinian Gaza Strip enclave on June 4, 2021 (Said Khatib/AFP)

The report also said Israel had told Egypt that it has no opposition to Egyptian engineering teams in Gaza helping to clear debris left by IDF airstrikes, but did not want them to repair the subterranean tunnels used by Hamas and other armed Palestinian factions.

Egypt, which played a pivotal role in negotiating the May 21 ceasefire between the sides, last week sent bulldozers, trucks and cranes into Gaza to help with rebuilding efforts in the Strip after the recent hostilities.

During the fighting, over 4,300 projectiles were fired from Gaza, several hundred of which failed to clear the border and landed inside the Strip, causing a number of Palestinian deaths. Thirteen people in Israel were killed in the fighting, all but one of them civilians.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza, which does not differentiate between terror group members and civilians, said at least 254 Palestinians were killed in the conflict, including 66 minors, with 1,910 people wounded. The Israeli military maintained that it killed roughly 225 terror operatives and that the Palestinian death toll was in fact considerably higher than was reported.

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