Source AP ©

Israel cooperates with Abbas' forces to bring in humanitarian aid

Israel is cooperating with the forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza to bring humanitarian aid into the impoverished coastal strip.

While the cooperation was small scale, Palestinian and aid officials expressed hope it could serve as a model for the future operation of Gaza's borders in the wake of the Islamic group's violent takeover.

Some 40 tons of wheat were shot over a 25-foot-high (8 meter) concrete wall at the closed Karni cargo crossing between Israel and Gaza on Thursday the first time any goods have moved through that economic lifeline since Islamic Hamas militants took over the coastal strip two weeks ago.

The operation was evidence of the cooperation Israel has maintained with the security forces of Abbas while sidestepping Hamas, in a joint effort to avert a humanitarian crisis in already impoverished Gaza.

"We hope it will be an example for the future," said Mumen Shahin, an official with the U.N. Relief and Works Agency at Karni.

Abbas's Fatah movement was vanquished in five days of fighting earlier this month, leaving Hamas firmly in control of Gaza and Fatah in charge of the West Bank. While Hamas has offered the defeated Fatah fighters an amnesty, Fatah forces have disappeared from Gaza streets.

Karni, the main cargo passage between Gaza and Israel, has been closed since the Hamas takeover. The wheat was spewed over the wall to the Palestinian side through a chute ordinarily used to transfer massive amounts of gravel a system that required no opening of the terminal.

While the coordination of the shipment was done with Abbas' forces and the U.N., Hamas security officials were guarding the perimeter of the terminal while the operation was under way.

Previously, aid has moved in trucks into Gaza through smaller crossings that are less of a security risk, said Israeli military spokesman Shlomo Dror.

On Thursday, the number of trucks that passed through the crossing topped 100 for the first time since the violent Hamas takeover in mid-June double the daily number needed to stave off food shortages, Dror said.

The pattern of cooperation with Abbas' men and international agencies "is something we intend to preserve. Our model is to strengthen Abu Mazen, not Hamas," he said, using Abbas' nickname.

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