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Israel allows aid into Gaza, but not construction materials

Israeli authorities re-opened Karam Abu Salem crossing on Sunday following six days of hiatus due to the Eid al-Adha holidays, allowing aid into the Palestinian enclave while blocking any construction materials. Raed Fattouh, head of the coordination committee for the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip, told Anadolu Agency that Israeli authorities allowed 250 truckloads of humanitarian aid and goods along with limited amounts of fuel. Yet, no construction materials were allowed into the strip, he said. Last week, Israeli authorities ordered a halt to the supply of construction materials to the Gaza Strip following the alleged unearthing of a tunnel leading from the Gaza Strip to Israel's Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha. The Israeli officials accused Hamas of using the imported construction materials to build tunnels into Israeli territory. Head of the popular committee to confront the Israeli blockade Gamal al-Khoderi slammed the Israeli decision as "a collecting punishment" against the residents of Gaza.

"Blocking construction materials means unemployment to thousands of workers, halt to projects and huge losses to the enclave," he said in a statement on Sunday.

The self-proclaimed Jewish state had resumed the delivery of construction materials to Gaza from the border crossing of Karam Abu Salem in late September after a six-year hiatus.

The crossing, located southeast of Gaza, is a meeting point for the borders of Egypt, Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Israel has blocked the entry of construction materials into the territory since 2007 for "security reasons" as part of its longstanding blockade of the strip that it first imposed in 2006.

In recent years, Gazans responded to the siege by smuggling proscribed items from neighboring Egypt through an expansive network of underground tunnels.

A recent crackdown on the tunnels by the Egyptian army, however, has served to squeeze the strip further, bringing it to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe.

According to Fattouh, Israel used to allow 40 truckloads of gravel (some 1,600 tons), 20 truckloads of cement (800 tons), and ten truckloads of steel rebars (400 tons) into the territory on a daily basis.

However, Maher al-Tabaa, spokesman for the Gaza Chamber of Commerce, said that the quantities allowed in would not be enough to meet the needs of the coastal enclave's roughly 1.7 million people.

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