Israel explores construction of aid train to Gaza
In an effort to both increase and expedite aid provided to the Gaza Strip, Israel briefs local leaders of Gaza-area communities on the construction of a railway to deliver goods; Government also examining possibility of increasing work permits for Gazans.
This week, Kamil Abu Rokun, head of the Crossing Points Authority at the Ministry of Defense, met with the heads of local authorities in the Gaza vicinity and briefed them on the details of the plan.
Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council Chairman Alon Shuster, who attended the meeting, said that the initiative was an international one that would include a significant expansion of the crossing.
"We heard at this meeting, from Brig. Gen. (res.) Kamil Abu Rokun that the State of Israel intends—with the assistance of international countries and budgets—to expand the Erez Crossing, which today is only used for the crossing of people, for the purpose of transporting goods, including by train."
Schuster added that according to the plan, the expansion would be carried out in the area of Kibbutz Erez, near the crossing.
"It seems that the expansion of the existing crossing will take place in Erez's fields," he said. "A great effort will be made to ensure that the kibbutz will be a significant partner in the planned development."
In addition, following pressure from the heads of local authorities in the Gaza are, Israel is currently examining the possibility of increasing the quota of permits on Palestinians from Gaza allowed to enter Israel for agricultural work, especially in communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip.
The initiative was accepted by the Ministry of Defense and even Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman supports the idea, provided that the quiet is maintained. The Shin Bet however, is opposed to the entry of workers at this time.
(Translated and edited by Fred Goldberg)