Israel Allows In More Gaza Merchants, Trying to Prop Up Truce
(Bloomberg) -- Israel will open its borders to 3,000 more Palestinian businesspeople from the Gaza Strip on Thursday, trying to shore up the fragile cease-fire that ended its conflict with the territory’s militant Hamas rulers in May.
A total of 10,000 Gaza merchants will now be allowed to leave the strip through the Erez pedestrian crossing, the military said in a statement on Wednesday. Only those already vaccinated against, or recovered from Covid-19, will be allowed to cross.
Gaza merchants need to travel through Israel to get to the West Bank because the two Palestinian territories are not contiguous.
Israel has taken a number of steps in recent months to ease the hardship of Gaza’s 2 million inhabitants in an effort to keep hostilities from flaring.
It reopened Erez to traders in August after a 16-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. The shutdown had further pummeled Gaza’s already weak economy, squeezed by war and an Israeli and Egyptian blockade that’s been in effect since Hamas wrested control of the area in 2007. Israel says the blockade is necessary to prevent Hamas from importing arms and materials it could use to attack it.
Israeli authorities have also recently reached a deal to let Qatar resume the distribution of financial aid to thousands of needy Gaza families. The assistance had been suspended after the fighting until a mechanism was put in place to ensure money doesn’t fall into Hamas’s hands.
The World Bank estimates Gaza would require as much as $485 million in aid to recover from the conflict, which left more than 250 dead in Gaza and 13 in Israel.
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