Israel Approves Renewal of Fuel Deliveries to Gaza After Cease-fire Takes Hold

General closure imposed on West Bank and Gaza for Israeli Memorial Day and Independence Day ■ Palestinians welcome Qatari pledge of $480 million

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FILE PHOTO: A United Nations vehicle follows a fuel tanker as it arrives at the Gaza power plant, Gaza Strip, October 9, 2018.
FILE PHOTO: A United Nations vehicle follows a fuel tanker as it arrives at the Gaza power plant, Gaza Strip, October 9, 2018. Credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the renewal of fuel deliveries to the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, after they were stopped Sunday during a deadly round of fighting.

Because of the general closure Israel has imposed on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during Memorial Day and Independence Day, transfer of goods through border crossings will resume at midnight on Thursday. Palestinians will only be allowed to enter Israel for humanitarian, medical or other exceptional reasons, subject to the approval by the military's coordinator of government activities in the territories.

The permitted fishing area in the waters around Gaza is also expected to be expanded over the next few days, as part of the Egyptian-mediated cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas.

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Israel closed crossings and limited the fishing zone on Saturday, in response to massive rocket fire from Gaza. Despite the closing of crossings, seventeen fuel tankers entered Gaza on Sunday morning, carrying about 650,000 liters of diesel fuel. On Sunday, evening Netanyahu decided to stop the fuel deliveries to Gaza.

On Monday, Qatar pledged $480 million in support of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Qatar allocated $300 million to support the Palestinian Authority's budget for the health and education sectors. The other $180 million will go to urgent rescue and humanitarian support.

Palestinain President Mahmoud Abbas published a statement thanking Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad. The Palestinian Authority's Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh tweeted that Qatar's pledge transpired during his visit with the PA's finance minister Shukri Bishara, and that the money will be transferred in the forms of loans and grants. 

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh welcomed the decision: "Qatar is taking a noble stance in its continued support for the Palestinian people, financially and diplomatically."