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Gaza exports to Israel resume as crossing reopens

By AFP - Sep 10,2023 - Last updated at Sep 10,2023

Trucks resume transit through the commercial crossing of Karm Abu Salem, or Kerem Shalom, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday as Israel ends a suspension of exports from the Palestinian territory (AFP photo)

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — Gaza Strip exports to Israel resumed Sunday as Israel reopened a trade crossing, Palestinian and Israeli officials said, days after it was shut over an alleged attempt to smuggle explosives from the coastal enclave.

The Kerem Shalom crossing, the only point of entry for goods between Gaza and Israel, was closed last week after the Israeli army said it found explosives hidden within a clothing delivery carried in three trucks.

Israeli army chief of staff Herzi Halevi last Monday ordered an immediate halt of all commercial deliveries from Gaza to Israel following the alleged attempt to "smuggle high-quality explosives".

Impoverished Gaza, home to around 2.3 million Palestinians, is under a tight land, air and sea blockade imposed by Israel, whose defence ministry controls all crossings.

On Sunday morning, the Kerem Shalom gateway was reopened, said Raed Fattouh, head of the Presidential Committee for the Coordination of Goods, which is affiliated to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fateh Party.

"Several trucks, including one loaded with readymade clothes and others loaded with scrap iron, entered the crossing this morning and headed towards the Israeli side," he told AFP.

COGAT, the body running civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, confirmed the reopening of the crossing from Sunday at 6:00 am (0300 GMT) "following the conclusion of a security assessment".

Palestinian businesses had warned that shutting the crossing would trigger a "humanitarian catastrophe" in the Gaza Strip.

The closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing came amid rising violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which has seen at least 227 Palestinians killed so far this year.

At least 32 Israelis, one Ukrainian and one Italian have also been killed, according to an AFP tally based on official sources on both sides.

The dead include, on the Palestinian side, fighters as well as civilians and, on the Israeli side, three members of the Arab minority.

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