Home > European Union, Gaza, Israel, Palestinian Authority > Israel announces details easing of Gaza blockade

Israel announces details easing of Gaza blockade

(WJC)–Israel has confirmed details of what goods it will allow to enter the Gaza Strip with the easing of its blockade. Consumer goods are being allowed but a “blacklist” of items including weapons and materials that could have a military use will be barred or limited. Hamas, which controls Gaza, dismissed the concessions as of no use and said the blockade should be fully lifted. Israel says its blockade of the Palestinian territory is needed to prevent the supply of weapons to Hamas.

Israel came under international pressure to ease its four-year blockade of Gaza after nine Turkish activists were killed in a 31 May Israeli raid on a flotilla that was trying to carry aid to the Palestinian territory. The international Middle East envoy, Tony Blair, said he believed the international outcry which followed that raid persuaded it to accelerate the easing of the Gaza blockade. “It is true to say that the Israeli government, I think, were moving towards a different policy anyway, but of course what happened has hugely accelerated the idea,” he said.

Under the new measures, materials such as steel, cement, certain fertilisers and chemicals will be allowed in for Palestinian Authority-approved projects that are under the supervision and for the use of the UN or other international agencies. Aid agencies say building materials are badly needed in Gaza as the blockade has prevented much reconstruction taking place since Israel’s devastating 22-day military offensive, which ended in January 2009. The blacklist includes so-called “dual-use” items that could be used to manufacture weapons and explosives, such as ball bearings and fireworks.
The White House, EU and Britain have welcomed the move as a “significant step” forward. But Hamas said the move was worthless and the blockade should be fully lifted. EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton hailed the plan to ease the blockade as “another significant step forward in the review of [Israel’s] policy on Gaza”.

Meanwhile, a group of European foreign ministers said they would visit Gaza at Israel’s invitation to monitor the implementation of the easing of the blockade.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

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