Accusing Hamas of Pilfering, Israel Halts Cement Deliveries to Gaza

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A Palestinian worker walks next to a truck loaded with sacks of cement at the Kerem Shalom border crossing on its way from Israel to Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Oct. 14, 2014.Credit: AP

Israel has frozen all shipments of cement to the Gaza Strip intended for private uses, claiming that Hamas has diverted the building materials for its own purposes in a breach of the group's agreements with Israel, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, announced on Monday.

The shipments of cement for large international projects will continue, COGAT said in a post on the unit's Facebook page in Arabic.

The IDF said it has received information that some of the building materials intended for the reconstruction of Gaza and sent to the international authorities overseeing the project have instead been taken by Imad al-Baz, the Hamas deputy director general of the Economy Ministry.  

Mordechai called the diversion of the cement meant to build homes "a flagrant deviation from the agreements."    

"We regret that Hamas continues to exploit and harm the entire Palestinian population in favor of the personal interests of the organization," the announcement read.

The international oversight system for the rehabilitation project for Gaza is responsible for bringing in building materials, including cement, for repairing the damage stemming from Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. So far some 80,000 housing units have been reconstructed, and 300 public projects have been built.  Some 90 suppliers have been suspended so far after they violated rules governing the project. 

Some 100 inspectors in Gaza, 80 of them Gaza residents and the rest foreigners, oversee the use of the materials, the amounts required and their use in the construction projects. 

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