The Erez crossing has been open for the passage of individuals, however up until now, the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Gaza has been the only crossing open to the transfer of goods.
The Gaza Strip is currently controlled by Hamas – an internationally designated terrorist organisation.
The move will ease congestion at Kerem Shalom, after residents in the area had complained about the hundreds of trucks that pass through the crossing daily, leading to heavy traffic and endangering motorists.
The decision comes after Israel and Turkey agreed a reconciliation agreement last month, ending six years of suspended diplomatic ties. It paved the way for the arrival of the first Turkish aid ship to Gaza last week, although Israel still conducts security checks on the cargo at the Israeli port of Ashdod.
The then-Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon had announced in May that Erez would be reopened in order to increase the transfer of goods and reduce congestion at Kerem Shalom.
It was confirmed by a spokesman for COGAT, the Defense Ministry body responsible for implementing government policies in the Palestinian territories, that the first vehicles had begun entering Gaza from Erez, with a Palestinian vehicle owners association claiming that 110 vehicles had arrived.
The COGAT spokesman told AFP: “This measure has been taken to facilitate the work of Palestinian importers and thus help the economy of the Gaza Strip”.
Israel is currently working to support reconstruction efforts in Gaza. Israel has facilitated the passage of over 4.6 million tonnes of construction materials into Gaza since Operation Protective Edge (as of April 2016). This has been in part due to Israel’s expansion of its border crossings with Gaza to handle over 800 truckloads of goods a day. Of the more than 130,000 households that were damaged in the conflict, 80,632 have completed renovation, and the repair of 20,342 is currently underway.
Since the Operation Protective Edge conflict in 2014, Hamas has continued to rearm and rebuild its cross-border terror tunnels. Official reports from Israel in May stated that 95% of cement that was destined for civilian projects was diverted by Hamas for military purposes.