Roni Sofer
July 21, 2010 - 12:00am,7340,L-3922992,00.html

The Political-Security Cabinet convened Wednesday to discuss Israel's blockade policy in the Gaza Strip. It was stated during the meeting that Israel had transferred NIS 50 million ($12.96 million) to Gaza banks for the payment of salaries on Monday and that an additional NIS 50 million will be transferred in the coming days.

Banks in the Gaza Strip have suffered a cash shortage following an increase in trade stemming from blockade easements.

The replacement of NIS 30 million ($8 million) worth of Israeli tattered currency bills was delayed due to the holy day of Tisha B'Av and will be performed shortly.

The transfers are made in coordination between the Bank of Israel and the Palestinian Authority and its monetary fund.

It was stated in the meeting that Palestinians reported of a decrease in the trade of Rafah smuggling tunnels with Egypt and heavy losses to the tunnel operators. According to the reports, the tunnels currently smuggle fuel and construction materials, which are unattainable in Gaza.

Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Major-General Eitan Dangot informed the cabinet of a rise in the number of trucks entering Gaza daily from 150 to 180 in certain days of the week. The number is slated to reach 250 per day by the end of July.

It was further stated that the increase in the number of trucks has led to a drop in prices and the dollar rate, which was used in the tunnel trade. Major-General Dangot added that the Kerem Shalom crossing will be expanded by another 36 dunam (roughly 9 acres) and will be provided with improved road infrastructure, parking facilities and lighting installations.

The number of international ventures in Gaza will also grow, with 25 education and health projects slated to be launched. On Monday, an US-funded project for the creation of "family greenhouses" in the backyards of 900 Gaza households was approved. Equipment for the agricultural project's first three greenhouses was transferred recently.

The cabinet also discussed the incitement index – an initiative by the Strategic Affairs Ministry which examines the level of Palestinian incitement against Israel in an attempt to provide Israeli leadership with tools to handle the phenomenon.


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