In keeping with the stated Israeli policy to "put the Palestinians on a diet, but not starve them" (as stated by governmental advisor Dov Weisglass), Israeli forces stationed in Gaza have reopened the Karni trade crossing after keeping it closed for nearly a month. As the main trade crossing in Gaza, its closure has meant a severe food crisis for the already hungry people in the Gaza Strip, the most crowded place on earth.
Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz decided to reopen the Karni crossing during a Wednesday visit to Germany after a telephone consultation with senior defense establishment officials.
Palestinian Border Director Mr. Salim Abu Safi’yah confirmed that Israeli authorities reopened the Mintar "Karni" crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip on Thursday for a temporary period.
Speaking to Maan via telephone Abu Safi’yah said that Israel will allow food and medicine to enter the Gaza Strip Thursday and Friday, but may close the crossing again after that.
The Israeli authorities closed the Carni Crossing for twenty days for what it said security reasons.
Abu Safi’yah said that it is expected that Palestinian products will be allowed to be exported to Israel next Sunday. Many of the products, however, are agricultural produce that has already spoiled from being held at the border for so long.
"Karni is a powerful bargaining chip for the Israelis," said Abu-Safiyeh, "Every step you people make here has an immediate effect and you know it. The bottom line is that you’re not implementing the border agreements or the Paris agreements."
Israeli military sources confirmed that the head of the Southern Command, Yoav Galant, and Aviv Kochavi, commander of the Gaza Division, recently recommended the reopening of Karni and said there was no security-related reason for its closure. But Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz ordered the closure to continue. Several different reasons have been given for the closure, including the upcoming Israeli elections and the recent Hamas victory in the PA elections.
"We’ve done everything to reassure the Israelis, but you can’t strangle the Strip because the desk of two secretaries moved a little and they thought they heard an explosion," Abu Safiyeh said.
The Gaza Strip is home to 1.2 million Palestinians, and it has been estimated by the United Nations that 40% of the children there suffer from malnutrition. Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip are completely dependent on goods coming through Israel, regulated by Israeli authorities and checked at the Karni crossing, which is often closed at the whim of local Israeli security chiefs.