As part of a cease-fire agreement with Hamas, Israel now is allowing shipments of construction materials into the Gaza Strip for private-sector building for the first time in five years, an Israel Defense Forces spokesman confirms.

The IDF has agreed to allow 20 truck loads of gravel into the Gaza Strip daily, five days a week.

While materials had been allowed into Gaza since 2010, they were limited to use on projects run by international aid groups.

According to the United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 40,041 truckloads of construction material have crossed from Israel to the Gaza since June 2010.

The entry of the trucks into Gaza began last month and is continuing without interruption, according to IDF.

IDF spokesman Major Guy Inbar said that the two sides are discussing additional measures to ease other restrictions and make the situation permanent. This will depend on the state of "quiet" in the region.

Israel is also considering lifting the ban on the import of heavy construction material including concrete and steel which the Israelis believed would be used for military or defense projects by the Palestinians, such as illegal tunnels.

Israel also hopes that lifting the private-sector ban will curtail the smuggling of materials into Gaza, which had persisted, according to a published report in Israel.

Much larger quantities of building materials are expected to arrive via the Rafah crossing from Egypt. Egyptian shipments are expected to reach 4,000 tons a day.

The shipments are being funded by Qatar, which has announced a $425-million aid program for building housing, schools,
hospitals and roads in the Gaza Strip.

But the Palestinians say that the amounts being brought in from Egypt and Israel are not sufficient to meet local demand.

According to a published report in The Washington Post, the Israelis had allowed from 80 to 100 daily truckloads of building supplies for the international aid projects.