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Archive for Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Israel eases blockade of Gaza

July 6, 2010

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— Israel is easing its blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza to allow in virtually all consumer goods, items from household cleaners to timber that had been barred from import for years.

A Palestinian boy holds up a banner referring to captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit during a protest calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails Monday on the Palestinian side of the Erez checkpoint with Israel, in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip.

A Palestinian boy holds up a banner referring to captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit during a protest calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails Monday on the Palestinian side of the Erez checkpoint with Israel, in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip.

But because Israel will continue to ban most travel and exports and restrict the import of desperately needed construction materials, the new rules are unlikely to restore the territory’s devastated economy or allow rebuilding of all that was destroyed in last year’s war.

The White House welcomed the changes that were announced Monday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Washington for a meeting with President Barack Obama. International Mideast envoy Tony Blair said Israel’s measures “should have a dramatic influence on the daily lives of the people of Gaza and on the private sector.”

The new blockade rules come in response to an outcry following a deadly Israeli raid on a blockade-busting flotilla at the end of May.

Gaza business leaders and rights activists said the measures are far short of what Gaza needs, and that the only active cargo crossing, Kerem Shalom, may not be enough to bring in all the goods now permitted.

Israeli officials said the remaining restrictions, including on exports, are essential for maintaining security.

On Monday, goods dropped off at Kerem Shalom included washing machines, which were previously banned from import. Aid supplies that had been transported on the intercepted flotilla also found their way to the crossing, including previously banned mattresses.

Israel started restricting movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza after the 2006 capture of an Israeli soldier, Sgt. Gilad Schalit, by Hamas-allied militants. A year later, when the Islamic militant Hamas overran Gaza, Israel — backed by Egypt — imposed a fuller closure, allowing in only a few dozen types of humanitarian goods like basic foods and medicine.

Israel says it will lift the blockade if Hamas releases the soldier, recognizes Israel and renounces violence. Hamas, which is considered a terror organization by the U.S., Israel and the European Union, has rejected those terms.

Obama, who is hosting Netanyahu at the White House today, has said the blockade is unsustainable and demanded that it be eased significantly. Other world leaders have asked for a complete lifting of the border closure.

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said Monday that the new procedure “will make a significant improvement in the lives of people in Gaza, while keeping weapons out of the hands of Hamas.”

Comments

Mixolydian 3 years, 9 months ago

"Israel says it will lift the blockade if Hamas releases the soldier, recognizes Israel and renounces violence."

Perfectly reasonable requests. The blockade could be ended today if Hamas wanted it to be lifted.

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 9 months ago

Beo & bozo, give us a chorus of Horst Wessel, would you?

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think_about_it 3 years, 9 months ago

You anti-semitism is showing bozo.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 3 years, 9 months ago

Israel rightly blocks the importation of construction material into Gaza because that material provides the terrorist group, Hamas, the infrastructure it needs to launch its attacks on Israeli civilians.

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