Hamas Official Threatens ‘Explosion’ Over Cement Issue

YERUSHALAYIM -

A Palestinian official on Tuesday threatened that an “explosion” if Israel doesn’t lift the ban on cement imports it imposed because Israel says Hamas has been diverting some of the materials intended for civilian construction, Arutz Sheva reported.

The Israeli Defense Ministry body that oversees government policies in the Palestinian territories, COGAT, on Monday accused Imad al-Baz, deputy director of the Palestinian Authority Economy Ministry, of taking “construction materials intended for civil reconstruction.”

“This is a clear example of how Hamas continues to abuse and harm Gaza’s civil population to advance their own personal agenda,” it charged.

Baz denied the allegation. “We don’t interfere with the cement mechanism,” he told AFP, pointing out that cement distribution sites in Gaza are monitored by Israeli cameras.

He warned that Israel’s decision would have “dire consequences” including “stopping the wheels of reconstruction, destroying the economy and increasing unemployment with adverse repercussions for tens of thousands of citizens.

Robert Piper, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, said they did not have the evidence Israel was referring to, but were trying to resolve the issue.

The ban only affected private suppliers, he said, so Qatar, a major donor to Gazan reconstruction, and the U.N. were still able to bring in cement.