New York Times Corrects: Gaza Concrete Ban Applied Only to Private Entities

CAMERA’s Israel office prompted correction yesterday of a New York Times article which had incorrectly reported that “In April, Israel suspended the delivery of cement to Gaza for the reconstruction of homes destroyed in the 2014 war …” (“As Hamas Tunnels Back Into Israel, Palestinians Are Afraid, Too,” May 20).
The informative article by Diaa Hadid and Majd Al Waheidi highlights the danger that Hamas attack tunnels pose both for Israelis as well as for Palestinians whose homes are located close to the tunnels. It also notes that some Gaza residents faced difficulties obtaining concrete to rebuild their homes, even as Hamas continues to build vast concrete attack tunnels under their homes. Contrary to the article, though, Israel did not suspend the delivery of all cement meant for homes in Gaza in April. It suspended deliveries belonging only to private entities, not international aid groups or states. As Agence France Presse reported yesterday:

Private cement deliveries to the Gaza Strip resumed on Monday after Israel lifted a nearly two-month ban it imposed over the alleged diversion of materials by an official in the Palestinian territory.

Israel imposed the ban in early April in the territory run by Islamist movement Hamas which is still rebuilding after a devastating 2014 war.

The ban affected private providers, meaning Qatar, a major donor to Gazan reconstruction, and the United Nations were still able to bring in cement to Gaza, under an Israeli blockade for nearly a decade.

Raed Fattouh, who oversees the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip, said private deliveries had resumed for the first time since April 3.

Likewise, Haaretz reported on April 4, when the ban on the private import was introduced:

Israel has frozen all shipments of cement to the Gaza Strip intended for private uses, claiming that Hamas has diverted the building materials for its own purposes in a breach of the group’s agreements with Israel, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, announced on Monday.

The shipments of cement for large international projects will continue, COGAT said in a post on the unit’s Facebook page in Arabic.

In response to CAMERA’s communication, Times editors commendably amended the text yesterday. The corrected text now states:
In April, Israel suspended the delivery of cement to Gaza for private individuals intending to reconstruct homes destroyed in the 2014 war  …
Moreover, editors commendably appended the following correction to the bottom of the article, further making clear that the ban applied only to the private sector:
For additional New York Times corrections prompted by CAMERA, please see here.

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