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

SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 12 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.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 12 months ago

Israel kills and injures way more Palestinian civilians than vice-versa, and destroys considerably more of their infrastructure, as well. So shouldn't there be a blockade of Israel, too?

SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 12 months ago

Israel wishes to live at peace - on its land and with its neighbors. The constant threat of kassam rocket attacks and suicide bombers naturally forces Israel to defend herself. Any overreaction on the part of Israel is deplorable and should be condemned, but let's be cognizant of the fact that Israel is surrounded by very real threats to its people and its land.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 12 months ago

I confused by how you define "anti-Semetism." Your message appears to be that a Jew can't really be a Jew if they aren't allowed to kill Palestinians however and whenever they please.

Flap Doodle 4 years, 12 months ago

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

Mixolydian 4 years, 12 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.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 12 months ago

Israel holds literally thousands of Palestinians in prison, refuses to recognize the elected government of Gaza, and on a daily basis commits acts of violence against Palestinians which they are completely powerless to resist. Their apartheid regime violates international law, as well as the UN edicts that created the state of Israel.

Until both sides renounce violence of all kinds, this endless cycle will continue. And Israel will never stop till the US quits enabling them.

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