Harriet Sherwood gets it wrong on Gaza construction material claim.

 

Goods crossing into Gaza from Israel's Kerem Shalom Crossing, late 2012.
Goods crossing into Gaza from Israel’s Kerem Shalom Crossing, late 2012.

Harriet Sherwood’s July 19th story on Egypt’s recent re-closure of Gaza’s supply tunnels (Palestinians in Gaza feel the Egypt effect as smuggling tunnels close) included a blatantly inaccurate claim.  Here’s the passage:

About 20,000 construction workers have been laid off as a result of the shortage of materials. Israel, which allows consumer goods to be imported into Gaza, forbids the passage of construction materials – apart from small quantities destined for UN projects – on the grounds they could be use to make weapons or arms storage depots.

The claim that Israel still only allows construction materials destined for UN projects is not true. 

In late December, 2012, it was widely reported that Israel expanded the legal passage of construction materials (which had previously only allowed materials for UN projects) to include the passage of private construction materials into Gaza.

On Dec. 26, Ynet reported the following in a story titled ‘Israel to ease Gaza ban on construction material‘:

Israel is to begin allowing materials for private construction into Gaza, easing its blockade under the terms of a truce deal, Israeli and Palestinian officials said on Wednesday.

The decision will allow private companies and individuals to import construction materials that were previously restricted exclusively to international aid groups under the terms of Israel’s blockade.”

The Saudi Gazette, on Dec. 27, published a story titled ‘Israel to ease Gaza ban on construction materials‘, which included the following:

“Israel is to begin allowing materials for private construction into Gaza, easing its blockade under the terms of a truce deal, Israeli and Palestinian officials said on Wednesday.

The decision will allow private companies and individuals to import construction materials that were previously restricted exclusively to international aid groups under the terms of Israel’s blockade.

“This is the first time Israel will allow the import of gravel for the private sector since the blockade began in mid-2007”, [said Palestinian customs official Raed Fattouh].”

The Egypt Independent, on Dec. 27, in a piece titled ‘Israel eases Gaza blockade following truce deal‘, wrote the following:

“Israel is easing its blockade of Gaza to allow construction materials and other goods into the enclave under the terms of a truce deal mediated by Egypt.

The decision allows [for the first time since 2007] private companies and individuals to import construction materials that were previously restricted exclusively to international aid groups… AFP reported.

Here’s Al Jazeera on Dec. 27, in a piece titled ‘Israel eases ban on Gaza building material:

“Israel has allowed a shipment of gravel for private construction into the Gaza Strip, easing the blockade it imposed after Hamas seized control of the enclave in 2007, a Palestinian official said.”

Even the Palestine News Network (PNN), on Dec. 27, in a story titled Israel to Allow Imports to Ease Gaza Blockade, reported the following:

“Israel will allow 20 trucks a day loaded with construction material to enter the Gaza Strip starting next week, in an attempt to ease its blockade under the terms of a truce deal signed with an Egyptian-mediation between Hamas and Israel after the eight days escalation last month.

The new construction material will be for the Palestinian sector, and this decision will allow private companies and individuals to import construction materials that were previously restricted and only embarked for internationally funded building projects.”

Sherwood plainly got the facts wrong, and we’ll be seeking a correction to the story.

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