Israel to Allow More Goods into Gaza to Ease Tensions

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -
israel gaza
Palestinian rioters react to tear gas at the Israel-Gaza border fence Wednesday. (Reuters/Mohammed Salem)

Israel said that it would be easing commercial restrictions on the Gaza Strip and expand entry of goods to the Palestinian enclave following days of heightened tensions.

The announcement came after hundreds of Palestinians rioted Wednesday near the Israeli border, calling on Israel to end its security blockade.

Hamas kept the crowds from approaching the barrier, and the protests ended without a repeat of Saturday’s more-violent clashes that left one Palestinian dead and an Israeli border policeman critically injured after being shot from point-blank range.

The defense ministry body in charge of Israel’s crossings with the Palestinian territory said in a statement late Wednesday that it would increase imports of new vehicles, goods and equipment for civilian projects in the Gaza Strip, and issue more permits for Gazan businessmen to enter Israel starting Thursday.

The easing of restrictions would be “conditional upon the continued preservation of the region’s security,” and could be further expanded if the border situation improves, the body, known as COGAT, said.

Hamas officials said Egypt would also be partially reopening its key border crossing with the Gaza Strip Thursday, after closing it in a bid to persuade Hamas, the terror group ruling the territory, to reimpose calm.