CiF Watch prompts correction to Guardian claim on Gaza construction material

On Friday we commented on a report by Harriet Sherwood focusing on Egypt’s recent re-closure of Gaza’s supply tunnels (Palestinians in Gaza feel the Egypt effect as smuggling tunnels close, July 19) which included the claim that Israel forbids the passage of construction materials into Gaza “apart from small quantities destined for UN projects”.  Here’s the passage in question:

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.

We noted that Sherwood’s claim that ‘Israel only allows construction materials into Gaza which is destined for UN projects’ was not true – citing widely reported news in Dec. 2012 that Israel had expanded the legal passage of construction materials (which had previously only allowed materials for UN projects) to include such materials for private contractors, as well.

Shortly after contacting Guardian editors, the passage in question was revised to more accurately reflect Israeli policy vis-a-vis the import of construction material into Gaza. It now reads as follows:

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, until recently forbade the passage of construction materialsapart from small quantities destined for UN projects – on the grounds that they could be use to make weapons or arms storage depots. Small amounts of building materials are now being let in for the private sector. 

Whilst the claim that only a “small amount” of private sector material enters Gaza is questionable considering that 20 truckloads of such material now enter the strip daily under the new policy, the revised passage is clearly an improvement over the original and we commend Guardian editors for their prompt action.

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