TRUCKS FROM GAZA TO GET HOMING DEVICES

By Zohar Blumenkrantz, "Ha’aretz" English Edition, January 4, 1998

Trucks carrying produce from Gaza to points in Israel are to be tracked by electric homing devices starting this April, according to officials at the Karni passage on the Gaza-Israel border. Details of the new system were to be presented to the Knesset Economic Committee during its planned visit to the site on Sunday.

Menahem Zlichovsky, deputy director in charge of border crossings at the Israel Ports Authority, said that the device would only be attached to "sterile" Palestinian trucks parked in a newly-created lot next to the passage. These would be permitted to travel to and from approved locations in Israel, such as factories and warehouses, to deliver or pick up produce. Technicians at the passage would then be able to keep track of the trucks’ whereabouts at all times and to ensure that they did not deviate from their assignments.

A tender is to be published in January for companies interested in the contract to install the devices. The number of trucks involved will be determined by supply and demand factors both in Israel and in areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority. A total of 40,451 trucks traversed the passage in 1996.

The refurbished Karni passage will feature a large terminal divided into two sections, one on each side of the border. Palestinian trucks will pass through a tunnel-type entrance between the Gaza and Israeli sides where they will be examined by specially-trained security forces. The system is expected to significantly improve the efficiency of the passage where previously truck drivers had to wait long periods to receive permission to proceed with their produce into Israel. Efforts to implement the improvements were delayed by the repeated closures of the territories and by the general stalemate in the peace process.