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Israel Briefly Reopens Gaza Strip Crossing to Get Palestinians Food

By Greg Myre
THE NEW YORK TIMES


JERUSALEM

Israel reopened the main freight crossing to the Gaza Strip on Monday to allow delivery of flour and sugar to the Palestinians. But it abruptly closed the crossing after just a half-hour, citing security threats.

Israel has kept the Karni Crossing shut for most of the past two months, saying it has intelligence that Palestinians are planning to attack the goods terminal, which has often been a target.

But with Gaza’s food stocks running low, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Richard H. Jones, arranged for talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians on Sunday night, and Israel agreed to allow food supplies into Gaza on Monday.

“The shortage of basic foodstuffs was weighed against the terror threat, and the logical decision to open it for a limited amount of time was made with the hope the Palestinians will uphold their commitments,” Amos Gilad, a Defense Ministry official, told Israel Radio.

But shortly after he spoke, Karni was again closed. The military said there were security alerts, but did not provide details.

Salim Abu Safiya, who handles border crossing issues for the Palestinians in Gaza, told Reuters, “The Israelis need to stop using this silly method and these silly alerts.”

During the brief period Karni was open, only a few trucks from Israel managed to unload their goods for delivery into Gaza. The Palestinians were not permitted to move their products in the other direction. The Palestinian exports, mostly fruits, vegetables and flowers, have been rotting during the long closing.

When Israel shut Karni for three weeks beginning in mid-January, the military said it had information that Palestinians were digging a tunnel to attack Karni. The Palestinians say they have searched for tunnels but have not found any.

Gaza’s economy is hugely dependent on the crossing for all its imports and exports. The Palestinians have not been permitted to build a port, reopen the Gaza airport or trade directly with Egypt.