Israel will expand the humanitarian aid transferred to the Gaza Strip starting on Tuesday. Israel’s political leadership also instructed the IDF and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to open the fishing zone off the Gaza coast, after they closed it due to rocket fire at Israel from the Strip.
The Israeli move, which comes as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken kicks off his Middle East tour with a visit to Israel and the West Bank, would let fuel, medicine and food earmarked for Gaza's private sector to enter the territory for the first time since the hostilities began on May 10.
Gazan patients will also be able to leave the coastal enclave to receive life-saving medical care in Israel beginning Tuesday, and employees of international organizations and foreign journalists will be able to enter the Strip via Erez crossing.
The Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings were closed for the transfer of goods to Gaza at the onset of the rocket attacks, except for the transfer of fuel, medicine and food to Gaza for humanitarian purposes. They were reopened on Monday.
As part of the cease-fire agreements, Israel promised to renew the transfer of aid and in larger quantities. This will allow Hamas to assess the damage from the Israeli bombardments in addition to the humanitarian situation, which the latest round of violence has worsened.
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Israeli defense officials support returning to the agreements the state made with Hamas prior to the latest round of escalations, and are of the opinion that other countries should be allowed to transfer aid for the reconstruction of Gaza. At this stage, the Israeli government has allowed the entry of medical equipment, food, medicine and fuel for the private sector in Gaza, via the Kerem Shalom crossing.
Israel is still not allowing exports from the Strip, but if the cease-fire holds, Israel is considering importing fruit, vegetables and textiles from Gaza factories soon. Israel will also examine the possibility of allowing the entry of Gazan workers into Israel and the West Bank; until the coronavirus pandemic, about 7,000 workers commuted from the Strip each day.
On Tuesday, Gaza's fishing zone was expanded to six nautical miles from the coast, but if the cease-fire holds, Israel will increase it to 15 miles in the near future.
Reuters contributed to this report.