Hamas Official Warns of 'Explosion' if Israel Doesn't Renew Cement Deliveries

Israel decided to cut off cement supplies to Gaza on Monday after accusing the official, Imad al-Baz, of redirecting materials 'intended for reconstruction.'

Palestinian workers removing debris from buildings which were destroyed during the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas militants in the summer of 2014, in Gaza City, on April 5, 2016.

A Hamas official rebuffed Israeli accusations that he has been syphoning off cement imports, countering that Israel's decision to cut off cement supplies to Gaza risk causing an "explosion," AFP reported on Tuesday.

Israel on Monday had accused the official, Imad al-Baz, deputy director of the economy ministry in Gaza, of redirecting “construction materials intended for civil reconstruction.” The ban applies only to private deliveries and not cement coming from governments like Qatar or international bodies like the United Nations, AFP noted.

“We don’t interfere with the cement mechanism,” al-Baz told AFP, referring to the UN-brokered Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism. He stressed that Israel monitors cement distribution sites with cameras.

He countered that Israel's "stopping the wheels of reconstruction" would have "dire consequences," according to AFP.

“If Israel continues to prevent the supply of cement to Gaza, the situation will explode in the face of the occupation and it will bear the responsibility," he said.

Over 1.2 million tons of construction materials have entered Gaza since the reconstruction mechanism was set up in 2014, AFP reported.