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Israel Eases Gaza Blockade for Cement Deliveries

Israeli officials say they will allow some cement deliveries into the Gaza strip for three construction projects.

Officials say the cement deliveries could occur in the coming weeks, and they will track the deliveries to ensure they are not diverted to other projects.

Israel has restricted the flow of most goods into Gaza ever since Hamas militants seized control of the area, ousting Fatah forces in June 2007. Following Israel's three week Gaze offensive in January, Israeli authorities came under international pressure to allow in more food and other basic goods. But they have continued to restrict items they say could be put to military use.

Earlier this month the United Nations said it will take a year to clear tons of rubble left from the estimated 15,000 buildings that were damaged or destroyed during the offensive.

The cement deliveries announcement coincides with a visit to the region by U.S. national security adviser Jim Jones.

U.S. diplomats have been carrying out a flurry of visits to the region as part of a new U.S. push for Middle East peace.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.