Photo Credit: COGAT
Shipment at the Erez crossing

The State of Israel is returning to its former practice of helping Gaza now that Operation Breaking Dawn is over and the threat from Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists is past – for now.

IDF Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian told reporters at a briefing on Sunday that Israel is carrying out an integrated policy towards the enclave.

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“The policy consists of a military effort to thwart military building, and critically striking at any attempt to harm the security of Israel, while maintaining a proactive civilian policy aimed at the general [Gazan] public,” Alian explained.

Exports from the enclave to Palestinian Authority citizens living in Judea and Samaria are expected to rise by 27 percent this year, a trend that began more than a year ago.

Last year, 4,003 trucks delivered goods from Gaza to the Palestinian Authority; the year before, 3,397 trucks carried the exported products. By the end of 2022, Alian said he expects 5,016 trucks to be making the deliveries.

The number of Gazans crossing into Israel for business and employment likewise increased this year, by 311 percent (672,000 human crossings) over the year prior, with 163,500 crossings. In 2020, there were 122,400 crossings, according to COGAT data.

The Erez Crossing reopened following the end of Operation Breaking Dawn, enabling the entry to Israel for Gazans working in the Jewish State, and for humanitarian cases.

Israel’s Defense Ministry has inked a plan to raise the number of Gazans with Israeli permits from its current 14,000 to an unprecedented total of 20,000. Just a year ago, “only” 7,000 Gazans held permits to enter Israel for trade and employment.

After the close of Operation Breaking Dawn, Israel “returned to the implementation of the civil policy towards the Gaza Strip with limitations on reconstruction until there is progress with the missing and captured” Israelis still being held hostage by Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization, including the bodies of two IDF soldiers.

“The residents of Gaza must know that we have no interest in being dragged into a war against them,” Alian said. “And the Israeli security establishment will continue to allow a civilian humanitarian policy towards the Gaza public, but this is subject to the preservation of security stability,” he said.

“If Hamas and the other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip try to break the peace, Israel’s policy will change accordingly.

“I suggest that the residents of Gaza look at [Judea and Samaria] and the steps Israel is advancing there and realize what is at stake and the damage Hamas is causing them,” he added.

“Hamas is an enemy of the State of Israel and unfortunately, also the residents of Gaza.”

Hamas has yet to return the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, killed and kidnapped in the 2014 summer war, and/or its two living Israeli hostages, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, both of whom have mental health problems and wandered across the border into Gaza in the fall of 2014.

Until those captives are returned, Israel has said it will block large-scale reconstruction in the enclave from the 2021 war.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.