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Gaza Erez crossing to reopen: Israel

Israel did not give a time frame on the reopening of the border crossing, which was closed in 2008
A sign is pictured at the entrance of the Israeli border terminal between southern Israeli city of Erez and the northern part of the Gaza Strip, on 14 April 2015 (AFP)

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon on Monday announced the reopening of one of the main crossing points into the Palestinian Gaza Strip, which has been closed for at least eight years.

He did not give a date for the reopening of the Erez crossing in the north of the territory, saying only that this "will not happen tomorrow or the day after". 

"It is in our interests that a significant amount of truckloads of food continues to go to Gaza," a spokesman for Yaalon said in a statement.

He added: "It is our interest that Gazans live in dignity. Both from a humanitarian point of view and because this is a way to protect the peace, in addition to existing security deterrents."

Yaalon also spoke of the necessity to ease congestion at the Kerem Shalom crossing in the south, currently the only conduit for goods between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

He said that "at least half of what currently goes via Kerem Shalom" would be redirected to Erez.

Israel imposed a tight air, sea and land blockade on Gaza in 2006 after Hamas won democratic elections and took control of the strip.

Ending the siege was one of the main demands of Palestinian political and military factions in Gaza while negotiating a ceasefire to end the devastating war with Israel in 2014, in which over 2,100 Palestinians and 73 people on the Israeli side were killed.

Bordered to the north and east by Israel and with the Mediterranean Sea to its west, the Palestinian enclave is also subjected to an Egyptian blockade to the south.

The Erez crossing was closed to the passage of goods in 2008.

Israel controls all but one of the crossing points with Gaza - the Rafah crossing into Egypt.

Back in February, Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing for a two-day period in both directions.

Since the overthrow of democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi in a 2013 military coup led by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Cairo has for the most part kept the border with the strip tightly sealed.

Throughout the course of 2015, the Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing for only 21 days and to limited traffic, according to data released by Gaza’s interior ministry.

The crossing is Gaza's only point of access to the outside world not under Israeli control.