Gaza exports to resume after Israel agrees to reopen vital crossing

The Karem Abu Salem crossing was closed on Monday after authorities said explosives were found hidden in a clothing shipment.

A Hamas security officer checks a truck entering Gaza at the gate of the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing with Israel, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on June 21, 2021. Israel will reopen the main commercial crossing to Gaza Sunday Sept. 10, 2023
A security officer checks a truck entering Gaza at the gate of the Karem Abu Shalom cargo crossing [File: Adel Hana/AP Photo]

Israel will reopen the main commercial crossing to Gaza after Israeli authorities closed it earlier this week, saying they had found explosives headed out of the blockaded territory.

Karem Abu Salem (called Kerem Shalom by Israel) is the only crossing Israel allows to be used for commercial shipments.

After an investigation and “necessary adjustments,” the crossing was safe to reopen, Israel said, without elaborating further on the explosives found.

“A short while ago, the Israeli side informed us of the decision by the Israeli government to resume exports from Gaza Strip through Karem Abu Salem crossing starting Sunday, the same way it used to be before the closure,” said a statement by the Palestinian Authority’s committee that liaises on the movement of goods in and out of Gaza.

Palestinian fishing boats return after a nighttime fishing trip to the seaport in Gaza City, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023
Palestinian fishermen struggled as their excess stock went off before it could not be exported [Adel Hana/AP Photo]

The move was condemned by Palestinian industrial and economic unions, which warned of potential economic and social consequences.

Earlier, The General Federation of Palestinian Industries in Gaza denounced the Israeli decision at a news conference, branding it “collective punishment” that worsened the hardship endured by two million people in Gaza living under an Israeli blockade since Hamas took control of the territory in 2007.

Nearly all the goods that enter and exit Gaza pass through Karem Abu Salem.

Challenges faced by Gaza’s fisherman during the closure were particularly acute. Their surplus stock perished before it could reach markets in Israel.

Gaza’s main fishermen’s union reported $300,000 in losses due to the closure, a significant blow. Fish accounted for 6 percent of all Gazan exports in July.

‘Living conditions will improve’

The reopening promised a reprieve for fishermen like Khalid al-Laham, a 35-year-old father of five who lives in the southern city of Khan Younis. Al-Laham was forced to borrow food from shops to feed his family during the closure.

“The financial and living conditions will certainly improve,” al-Laham said.

“I will be able to feed my family and live a decent life.”

While the reopening promises to relieve producers across the territory, Gaza’s economy remains hamstrung by Israel’s blockade – which has been in place since June 2007, when Israel imposed an airtight land, sea and air blockade on the area.

Israel controls Gaza’s airspace and territorial waters, as well as two of the three border crossing points; the third is controlled by Egypt.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies