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Gaza City - Israel Agrees to Ease Gaza Land Blockade

Published on: June 17, 2010 07:26 AM
By: AP
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FILE - In this file photo taken on Jan. 12, 2009, an Israeli worker moves a bag of UN humanitarian aid bound for Gaza, on the Israeli side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel. Israel agreed on Thursday, June, 17, 2010, to ease its land blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, hoping to quell growing international criticism following a deadly sea raid. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)Gaza City - Israel agreed Thursday to ease its land blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, hoping to quell growing worldwide outrage following a deadly raid on an international flotilla bound for the Palestinian territory.

In one of the major changes, Israel will now allow in more desperately needed construction materials for civilian projects, provided those projects are carried out under international supervision, government and military officials said. Israel has barely allowed in materials such as cement and steel, fearing Hamas militants could use them to build weapons and fortifications.

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That policy has prevented rebuilding after Israel’s brief but fierce war with Hamas in Gaza last year.

An Israeli military official told The Associated Press that all foods would be freely let in to Gaza, effective immediately. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak on the record. Israel has previously allowed a narrow and constantly changing list of authorized food items.

A brief government statement announcing Thursday’s decision also indicated the naval blockade on Gaza would remain in force.

Israel will “continue existing security procedures to prevent the inflow of weapons and war material,” it said. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly warned that if the naval closure is lifted, then the Iranian-backed Hamas would turn Gaza into an “Iranian port.”

There was no mention of lifting or easing bans on exports or the import of raw materials that would be crucial to galvanizing the territory’s battered economy. And the statement contained no specifics on what else would be allowed into Gaza.

But the fact that Israel was forced to respond to an international outcry over the blockade was evidence of the intense pressure the country’s leaders felt.

The European Union cautiously welcomed the decision.

“This is a step in the right direction,” said Cristina Galach, spokeswoman for the bloc’s Spanish presidency.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said officials wanted to see how the Israeli decision is carried out. “The detail is what matters,” she said.

Israel must “make sure that many, many more goods can get in to Gaza to enable people to reconstruct their homes, to build schools, to place infrastructure, and also enable people to get on with ordinary lives,” she said.

U.N. spokesman Chris Gunness said the blockade has prevented the United Nations from bringing in construction materials needed to carry out an internationally approved plan to rebuild thousands of homes and other buildings Israel damaged or destroyed in last year’s war in Gaza.

The closure has also shuttered hundreds of factories, put tens of thousands of people out of work and brought the territory’s fragile economy to a standstill, mainly hurting ordinary Gazans.

EU officials will discuss the possibility of helping reopen Gaza’s border crossings, Ashton added. The EU helped monitor Gaza’s southern border with Egypt until Hamas took power in 2007.

The partial lifting of the siege did not satisfy Hamas.

“We want a real lifting of the siege, not window-dressing,” said Hamas lawmaker Salah Bardawil.

Israel, with Egypt’s cooperation, imposed the blockade three years ago after Hamas, which calls for Israel’s destruction, violently wrested control of Gaza. For the most part, only basic humanitarian goods have been allowed in.

But the blockade failed to achieve its aims of stanching the flow of weapons to Gaza, weakening Hamas or winning the release of an Israeli soldier held in captivity in Gaza for years. A network of smuggling tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border became a conduit for both weapons and commercial goods sold at black market prices. Gazans sank deeper into poverty, turning their anger against Israel and not their Hamas rulers.

Israel drew new scrutiny of the embargo when it sent naval commandos to stop a blockade-busting flotilla in late May. The troops clashed with activists on board one of the ships, killing nine Turks. Both sides said they acted in self-defense.

In the West Bank, the rival pro-Western Palestinian government of President Mahmoud Abbas also criticized the Israeli decision. Negotiator Saeb Erekat said the closure should be ended altogether. “The siege is collective punishment and it must be lifted.”

Amid the heavy international criticism that followed the Israeli naval raid, Egypt opened its land border crossing with Gaza — the main gateway for some residents to enter and exit the crowded territory.

But most Gazans remained confined to the territory. Egypt is only letting in people with special travel permits, such as students and Gazans with foreign passports. In the past two weeks, only 10,000 Gazans have crossed into Egypt.

On Sunday, the Israeli commission appointed to investigate the flotilla attack met for the first time. Two international observers are to join the deliberations later.



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Read Comments (22)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jun 17, 2010 at 07:38 AM Anonymous Says:

Bh for this change. Its been a huge chillul hashem and a lack of kovod habrios to allow human beings to suffer so much. I can understand not allowing weapons in, but non dangerous items like cement and food? What were they ever thinking?
Israel has pushed all of its friends (usa, england, turkey, albania) away for this policy. It hasn't helped anyway.

2

 Jun 17, 2010 at 07:44 AM Anonymous Says:

This is another example of Israel caving into the world's demands. Hamas is a terrorist group looking to destroy Israel. Our security comes first. We should tell the world that we won't be pushed around and that the blockade will continue until Hamas leaves and turns over Gaza to Abbas.

3

 Jun 17, 2010 at 07:52 AM Anonymous Says:

what about gilad shalit

4

 Jun 17, 2010 at 08:04 AM Big Mistake Says:

Gaza is only breeding terrorism why supply them with anything

5

 Jun 17, 2010 at 08:52 AM Anonymous Says:

Remember the whole Palestine nation is a fraud acting on the inherent antisemitism of the world.Save lives by making NO concessions.

6

 Jun 17, 2010 at 09:10 AM Avi Says:

Israeli Arabs live peacefully. They may face discrimination, but they can get work, food and shelter for their families. They can travel in and out of the country. It would be in the Gazans best interests to be Israeli citizens. They would be able to influence legislation through politics instead of violence. That they refuse is a sign of their true intentions.

7

 Jun 17, 2010 at 09:48 AM joe Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

Bh for this change. Its been a huge chillul hashem and a lack of kovod habrios to allow human beings to suffer so much. I can understand not allowing weapons in, but non dangerous items like cement and food? What were they ever thinking?
Israel has pushed all of its friends (usa, england, turkey, albania) away for this policy. It hasn't helped anyway.

You self hating jew .you sound like you work for alljazera .the whole gaza is runned by hamas and when your dealing with terrorist its not so simple to allow even cement in cuz these bumms could somehow manage to turn it into rockets .you go live in sederot and get bombarded by rockets and then write your stupit comments

8

 Jun 17, 2010 at 10:08 AM moshe aryeh Says:

Sad that Israeli policy is reactive and not pro-active. I fear the political lead4ership is devoid of any imagination or creativity and only knows to say "NO".

9

 Jun 17, 2010 at 10:22 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
joe Says:

You self hating jew .you sound like you work for alljazera .the whole gaza is runned by hamas and when your dealing with terrorist its not so simple to allow even cement in cuz these bumms could somehow manage to turn it into rockets .you go live in sederot and get bombarded by rockets and then write your stupit comments

how do you turn cement into a rocket?

10

 Jun 17, 2010 at 11:57 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
moshe aryeh Says:

Sad that Israeli policy is reactive and not pro-active. I fear the political lead4ership is devoid of any imagination or creativity and only knows to say "NO".

Bibi, blinked first .

11

 Jun 17, 2010 at 11:58 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

how do you turn cement into a rocket?

Into mortars , yes?

12

 Jun 17, 2010 at 12:14 PM You are a tipish Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

how do you turn cement into a rocket?

You cant turn cement into rockets but they have ways of using cement to further their terrorist aims like building structures that will give them better abilities to fire rockets and be protected while firing on innocent women children and babies.

13

 Jun 17, 2010 at 12:23 PM Tanna Kamma Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

Bh for this change. Its been a huge chillul hashem and a lack of kovod habrios to allow human beings to suffer so much. I can understand not allowing weapons in, but non dangerous items like cement and food? What were they ever thinking?
Israel has pushed all of its friends (usa, england, turkey, albania) away for this policy. It hasn't helped anyway.

"Lack of kavod habriyos"
Gilad Shalit??

14

 Jun 17, 2010 at 12:49 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

Bh for this change. Its been a huge chillul hashem and a lack of kovod habrios to allow human beings to suffer so much. I can understand not allowing weapons in, but non dangerous items like cement and food? What were they ever thinking?
Israel has pushed all of its friends (usa, england, turkey, albania) away for this policy. It hasn't helped anyway.

U have serious issues.

15

 Jun 17, 2010 at 12:50 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

Bh for this change. Its been a huge chillul hashem and a lack of kovod habrios to allow human beings to suffer so much. I can understand not allowing weapons in, but non dangerous items like cement and food? What were they ever thinking?
Israel has pushed all of its friends (usa, england, turkey, albania) away for this policy. It hasn't helped anyway.

Stop wasting ur time people and answering number 1. Hes obviously very ill.

16

 Jun 17, 2010 at 01:18 PM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

Bh for this change. Its been a huge chillul hashem and a lack of kovod habrios to allow human beings to suffer so much. I can understand not allowing weapons in, but non dangerous items like cement and food? What were they ever thinking?
Israel has pushed all of its friends (usa, england, turkey, albania) away for this policy. It hasn't helped anyway.

Are you nuts? It's called war. The people over there are at war with the Jews, so why should the Jews allow anything through? When the West was at war with Germany and Japan, did they allow anything in?

And since when is cement not dangerous? Don't you realise it can be used for bunkers?

17

 Jun 17, 2010 at 01:21 PM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

Bh for this change. Its been a huge chillul hashem and a lack of kovod habrios to allow human beings to suffer so much. I can understand not allowing weapons in, but non dangerous items like cement and food? What were they ever thinking?
Israel has pushed all of its friends (usa, england, turkey, albania) away for this policy. It hasn't helped anyway.

The Torah says that when you're at war with a city you besiege it and let NOTHING through. No food, no water, no medicine, NOTHING. You besiege it until it falls. וצרת עליה...עד רדתה The so-called blockade that Israel has imposed is nothing like that; there is no starvation in Gaza, there is no real hardship, so why would they ever surrender?

18

 Jun 17, 2010 at 02:38 PM Anonymous Says:

As incredible as it seems, some of you have no rachmanos at all. Not everybody who lives in Gaza are terrorists. There are women and children, and old people who live there. Do some of you propose to starve them to death, because you don't like the politics of their meshpucha, who also live there? Many of the civilians who live in Gaza are also terrorized by hoodlums and thugs from Hamas, but are powerless to do anything about it. Therefore, do they deserve to be punished because of miscreants and deviants, who live nearby?

19

 Jun 17, 2010 at 02:47 PM GDANSK YANG MING Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

Bh for this change. Its been a huge chillul hashem and a lack of kovod habrios to allow human beings to suffer so much. I can understand not allowing weapons in, but non dangerous items like cement and food? What were they ever thinking?
Israel has pushed all of its friends (usa, england, turkey, albania) away for this policy. It hasn't helped anyway.

O.K.we can let them import rockets that dont have a range of more than 50km;after the next flotilla-60km range etc etc until they can have the medina..........
hey no wait a minute-then we will be depriving hamas of much needed revenue from tunnel smuggling.......i guess we really need to balance things out here......

20

 Jun 17, 2010 at 07:17 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

Bh for this change. Its been a huge chillul hashem and a lack of kovod habrios to allow human beings to suffer so much. I can understand not allowing weapons in, but non dangerous items like cement and food? What were they ever thinking?
Israel has pushed all of its friends (usa, england, turkey, albania) away for this policy. It hasn't helped anyway.

#1 - either you are the most ill-informed person, an outright Jewish or non-Jewish anti-semite or living in a cave. Israel has been supplying Gaza with food and everything else needed all the time. This is all a bunch of lies and everyone by now knows it - except you. These were plain terrorists and Jew haters who came to provoke and even had weapons of sorts on board that beat up Israeli soldiers who came with no weaponry on board and many were hospitalized and one in critical condition. Where have you been? Most of the media gives you lies, omissions or distortions of all kinds; the world is literally ganging up on Israel now - wake up and read and listen to media that give you the truth. It's bad enough we have so many sonim from within - in every area of life and now we have the world (outright) against us. They're not hiding their feelings any longer. Just 70 years after the horrific shoah, anti-semitisim is raising its ugly head again at a very fast pace.
It is a chilul that the 'gov't.' of Israel is capitulating once again.

21

 Jun 18, 2010 at 01:27 AM It is Bibi's fault Says:

I know you guys on VIN think that Bibi is pro Israel, stong leader, and good for the Jews, can I tell you something; he is not, he is the weakest leader Israel ever had, it is because of him that he trys to appease the world he is to blamefor the rockets that will come from hes "good gesture" he has to go now!!!!

22

 Jun 27, 2010 at 05:12 AM Anonymous Says:

How much money do you suppose Israeli's are making from selling household goods smuggled into the Gaza blackmarket? Supply and demand baby.

23

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