Gaza crossing reopened after prisoner exchange 25Oct11 October 25, 2011

Ma’an News Agency  -  24 October 2011

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities reopened Gaza’s sole goods crossing on Sunday following a week-long closure as Israel used the Kerem Shalom terminal for a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas.

Palestinian Authority crossings official Raed Fattouh said Israeli officials cleared between 260 and 270 trucks to cross into Gaza from Israel through the southern crossing on Sunday, after the prisoner swap and a Jewish holiday had caused its closure a week prior.

Fourteen trucks of cement and steel, and 44 trucks of gravel for UN projects will pass, in addition to a truck carrying wooden pillars for Gaza’s energy authority, Fattouh said.

Limited amounts of cooking gas will also be transferred to Gaza, the official added.

Kerem Shalom is the last crossing able to transfer goods to the coastal strip’s 1.6 million people after Israel closed other terminals. Egypt’s Rafah crossing into Gaza is not equipped for transporting cargo.

Israel has imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip since 2007, severely limiting the import and export of goods.

The blockade has been repeatedly condemned by human rights groups as a form of collective punishment.

On Tuesday, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, captured by Gaza militants in 2006, was returned to Israel via Egypt’s Sinai and the Kerem Shalom crossing, which bisects Egypt, Israel and Gaza.

In exchange, some 297 Palestinian prisoners in Israel jails crossed from Kerem Shalom into Sinai before being received in Gaza, as part of the deal that will see over 1,000 detainees released in two months.

Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouq said on Tuesday that Israel had unofficially agreed to lift the closure on Gaza as part of the prisoner exchange.

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