View Full Version : Israel Eases Gaza Blockade, Will Allow In All Goods Except For Weapons

Myra Bronstein
06-21-2010, 03:48 AM

JERUSALEM — Israel's government decided Sunday to draw up a list of items banned from Gaza limited to weapons and materials deemed to have military uses and said the easing of the three-year-old blockade of the Palestinian territory would be implemented immediately.

The list of banned goods replaces an old list of allowed items that permitted only basic humanitarian supplies for the 1.5 million Gazans. Under the new system, the government said practically all non-military items can enter Gaza freely.

"From now on, there is a green light of approval for all goods to enter Gaza except for military items and materials that can strengthen Hamas' military machine," Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said.

Israel decided on Thursday to ease the blockade under intense international pressure after its raid on a blockade-busting international flotilla bound for Gaza killed nine pro-Palestinian activists.

In a critical shift, Israel said it would allow construction materials into Gaza for projects approved by the Palestinian Authority, such as housing and schools, as long as the projects are under international supervision. Up to now, Israel has banned most construction materials, including cement.

Construction materials are a critical need in Gaza. Thousands of buildings were destroyed or damaged in Israel's military operation in Gaza a year and a half ago, aimed at stopping years of daily rocket attacks by Gaza militants. Because of the blockade, little repair or rebuilding has been done since the war ended.

The list of banned items was not released Sunday, but the government said it will be published.

A Hamas Cabinet minister, Ziad al-Zaza, rejected the Israeli decision, calling it "deception." He told The Associated Press the blockade must be lifted completely "to allow Gaza to import all necessary materials, particularly cement, iron, raw materials for industry and agriculture, as well as import and export between Gaza and the world."

Under its blockade, Israel has banned all exports from Gaza, further crushing its economy. It has not yet said whether there will be any change in the export ban.

In Washington, President Barack Obama's spokesman Robert Gibbs welcomed the easing of the blockade and said Israel responded to calls of the international community.

"Once implemented, we believe these arrangements should significantly improve conditions for Palestinians in Gaza, while preventing the entry of weapons," he said.

The White House also announced that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be meeting with President Obama in Washington On July 6.

"We need to seize this moment of opportunity here in the region to finally make peace," White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said on ABC's "Meet The Press" on Sunday.

A majority of Palestinians want peace with Israel, Haaretz reported Sunday, according to a new poll.

Israel imposed the blockade after Hamas overran the Gaza Strip, aiming to choke off support for the Islamic militant group, keep weapons out of the territory and win the release of an Israeli soldier held in Gaza since 2006. None of the goals has been accomplished, adding to pressure on Israel to change the rules.

The original system, allowing only certain items provided by aid groups into Gaza, came under fire because of its vagueness. Palestinians complained that only Israel knew what was on the list of permitted items, and the categories seemed arbitrary.

Netanyahu explained the new procedures to Tony Blair, the former British premier who is the envoy for the "Quartet" of Mideast peacemakers – the U.S., U.N., EU and Russia. In an AP interview, Blair said now, the decision must be implemented.

"This is a a very significant step forward," he said. "It also allows Israel to maintain its security."

The government said the purpose of the new regulations was to protect Israeli citizens from "terrorism, rocket attacks and any other hostile activity." It said the goal was "to prevent the entry of weapons and war material into Gaza, while at the same time widening the entry of civilian products into Gaza."

Israel is maintaining its sea blockade of Gaza. Israel fears that without searching incoming ships, Hamas could receive unlimited shipments of missiles and other weapons.

Magda Hassan
06-21-2010, 04:01 AM
Under the new system, the government said practically all non-military items can enter Gaza freely.
I'd be interested to see what the list says because the old list was supposed to be letting everything in that was non-military also. I bet the IDF have a very broad definition of 'non-military' still. After all, terrorists need buildings to store their bombs in so building material could if they wished be classified as a 'military' item in that case. Terrorist have to wear shoes too. Ergo footwear. I'll believe it when I see it. But it is a good move for them on the PR front and it will make further siege busting flotillas more difficult to organize so less pesky international scrutiny and condemnation.

Myra Bronstein
06-21-2010, 04:13 AM
Under the new system, the government said practically all non-military items can enter Gaza freely.
I'd be interested to see what the list says because the old list was supposed to be letting everything in that was non-military also. I bet the IDF have a very broad definition of 'non-military' still. After all, terrorists need buildings to store their bombs in so building material could if they wished be classified as a 'military' item in that case. Terrorist have to wear shoes too. Ergo footwear. I'll believe it when I see it. But it is a good move for them on the PR front and it will make further siege busting flotillas more difficult to organize so less pesky international scrutiny and condemnation.

Thanks I was needing some savvy input. "I'll believe it when I see it" is our unofficial motto here. Far too many believe it when they hear it.

Magda Hassan
06-21-2010, 04:22 AM
While Israel is apparently letting in goods of a non-military nature others are not letting in any Israeli goods at all.

Protesters prevent unloading of Israeli ship
David R. Baker, Chronicle Staff
Sunday, June 20, 2010
(06-20) 12:35 PDT OAKLAND --
Hundreds of demonstrators, gathering at the Port of Oakland before dawn,
prevented the unloading of an Israeli cargo ship.
The demonstrators, demanding an end to Israel's blockade of the Gaza
Strip, picketed at Berth 58, where a ship from Israel's Zim shipping
line is scheduled to dock later today. The day shift of longshoremen
agreed not to cross the picket line.
International pressure to end the Gaza closure has increased since
Israeli commandos stormed a flotilla of ships attempting to run the
blockade on May 31, killing nine people. Last week, Israeli officials
announced that they would loosen but not lift the blockade, allowing
more goods to enter the impoverished area.
"Our view is that the state of Israel can not engage in acts of
piracy and kill people on the high seas and still think their cargo can
go anywhere in the world," said Richard Becker, an organizer with
ANSWER, one of many peace and labor groups involved in Sunday's action.
Becker estimated that 600 to 700 people joined the demonstration,
many of them arriving at 5:30 a.m. Oakland police, who estimated the
crowd at 500 people, reported no arrests.
The demonstrators want to block the unloading of the Zim ship for a
full day. After convincing the day shift of longshoreman to honor the
picket line, the demonstrators dispersed around 10 a.m., Becker said.
The ship is scheduled to arrive in mid-afternoon, and the demonstrators
plan to gather again around 4:30 p.m. and re-establish their picket line
before the evening shift of longshoremen arrives at 6 p.m.

Myra Bronstein
06-21-2010, 04:30 AM
While Israel is apparently letting in goods of a non-military nature others are not letting in any Israeli goods at all.

Protesters prevent unloading of Israeli ship

That is excellent.

Keith Millea
06-21-2010, 04:59 AM
Israel imposed the blockade after Hamas overran the Gaza Strip

WTF?Hamas didn't overrun Gaza.They are the democratically elected Palistinan leaders of the country.Ask me why I don't read the Huff.Post....

Maybe Israel is letting up because they are internationally known now as thugs and thieves.

Published on Saturday, June 19, 2010 by the Guardian/UK (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/18/gaza-convoy-activists-debit-card-fraud) Gaza Convoy Activists Claim Israeli Soldiers Using Debit Cards Stolen in Raid

by Haroon Siddique

Israeli troops have been accused of stealing from activists arrested in the assault on the Gaza flotilla after confiscated debit cards belonging to activists were subsequently used.

http://www.commondreams.org/files/article_images/Confiscated-ship.jpgOne of the ships impounded by Israel when it raided the flotilla of aid vessels off Gaza. Photograph: Jim Hollander/EPA

In their raid of 31 May (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2010/may/31/israel-troops-gaza-ships), the Israeli army stormed the boats on the flotilla and, as well as money and goods destined for the Palestinian relief effort in Gaza, the bulk of which have yet to be returned, took away most of the personal possessions of the activists when taking them into custody.
Individual soldiers appear to have used confiscated debit cards to buy items such as iPod accessories, while mobile phones seized from activists have also been used for calls.

Ebrahim Musaji, 23, of Gloucester, has a bank statement showing his debit card was used in an Israeli vending machine for a purchase costing him 82p on 9 June.

It was then used on a Dutch website, www.thisipod.com, twice on 10 June: once for amounts equivalent to £42.42 and then for £37.83. And a Californian activist, Kathy Sheetz, has alleged that she has been charged more than $1,000 in transactions from vending machines in Israel since 6 June.

Musaji and Sheetz were on board two separate boats - one the Mavi Marmara, on which nine Turkish activists were killed, the other on the Challenger 1. Both activists only entered Israel when arrested, and were in custody for their entire time on Israeli soil.

"They've obviously taken my card and used it," Musaji told the Guardian.
"When they take things like people's videos and debit cards and use them, and their mobile phones, it becomes a bit of a joke.

"We were held hostage, we were attacked, and now there's been theft. If the police confiscate your goods in the UK, they're not going to use your goods and think they can get away with it."

Musaji cancelled his card on 7 June, the day after he returned to Britain, where he is a support worker for adults with learning difficulties. His bank has agreed to treat the transactions as fraudulent and he will not be charged for them. His mobile phone was also used for two short calls in Israel after it had been confiscated.

Another American activist, David Schermerhorn (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFQJpjcXl90&feature=channel), 80, from Washington state, claims his iPhone was used, while Manolo Luppichini, an Italian journalist, said his card was debited with the equivalent of €54 after it was confiscated.

Activists say Israel still has possession of at least £1m of goods and cash, comprising aid and personal possessions, including laptops and cameras.
Some passports, three of them belonging to British citizens, have still not been returned. On Thursday, delegations in 12 countries, including the UK, held meetings with their respective governments to exert pressure on Israeli to return the seized property.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli embassy in London advised Musaji to register a formal complaint.

"We regard any misconduct as described in Mr Musaji's allegations to be utterly unacceptable and intolerable, and suggest waiting until this subject matter is clarified," she said. "As had happened previously, an Israeli soldier was found guilty of illegal use of a credit card for which he was indicted and sentenced to seven months' imprisonment."

Helen Reyes
06-21-2010, 12:22 PM
Maybe Israel is letting up because they are internationally known now as thugs and thieves.

Or trying to preserve an appearance of control over Gaza's borders, since Egypt opened their border and there is a real possibility now of diplomatic recognition of an independent Palestinian state in Gaza.

Mark Stapleton
06-22-2010, 12:33 AM

Israeli Blockade 'Eased' Only in English, but U.S. Media Eat It Up
06/18/2010 by Alex Kane

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement yesterday that promised to "liberalize the system by which civilian goods enter Gaza." The announcement from Israel's security cabinet came after widespread international pressure on Israel following a deadly Israeli naval raid on a humanitarian flotilla trying to break the three-year old blockade of Gaza.

U.S. media echoed the Israeli press release in headlines like "Israel to Ease Gaza Land Blockade" (New York Times, 6/17/10) and "Israel Eases Restrictions on Goods Bound for Gaza Strip" (Washington Post, 6/18/10). (CNN--6/17/10--at least attributed the claim in its "Israel to Ease Blockade of Gaza, Cabinet Says.")

But corporate news coverage in the United States omitted an important aspect of the story that undermines the narrative that Israel is "easing" its blockade of Gaza. The Israeli daily Ha'aretz (6/17/10) reports:

The prime minister's office announced on Thursday that the security cabinet had agreed to relax Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip, but as it turns out, no binding decision was ever made during the cabinet meeting.

The prime minister's office issued a press release in English following the meeting, which was also sent to foreign diplomats, was substantially different than the Hebrew announcement--according to the English text, a decision was made to ease the blockade, but in the Hebrew text there was no mention of any such decision.

U.S. corporate media have apparently decided to ignore the Hebrew press release that told a far different story about the blockade of Gaza. Even if their correspondents in Jerusalem don't speak Hebrew, the online English version of Ha'aretz reported the news about the dual statements loud and clear yesterday afternoon.

Only time will tell which statement is true and whether Israel is really easing its land blockade of Gaza. (The naval blockade will remain in place, according to the New York Times story on the Israeli statement.) Even if the English version were true, though, it doesn't seem like it will squelch criticism of the blockade--Israeli human rights organization Gisha (Guardian, 6/17/10) called the announcement "cosmetic changes," and said that "we need a policy that recognizes the rights of Palestinian residents of Gaza not just to consume but also to produce and to travel." Such viewpoints, however, are unlikely to get much of a hearing in the U.S. press.

http://www.fair.org/blog/2010/06/18/isr ... eat-it-up/

Magda Hassan
06-22-2010, 01:13 AM
Very interesting Mark and doesn't surprise me in the least :mad:. Thanks for posting this.

Magda Hassan
07-11-2010, 02:14 AM
Let Them Eat Coriander!

Blockade "Eased" as Gaza Starves More Slowly
by Jonathan Cook / June 25th, 2010
As Israel this week declared the “easing” of the four-year blockade of Gaza, an official explained the new guiding principle: “Civilian goods for civilian people.” The severe and apparently arbitrary restrictions on foodstuffs entering the enclave – coriander bad, cinnamon good – will finally end, we are told. Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants will have all the coriander they want.
This “adjustment”, as the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu termed it, is aimed solely at damage limitation. With Israel responsible for killing nine civilians aboard a Gaza-bound aid flotilla three weeks ago, the world has finally begun to wonder what purpose the siege serves. Did those nine really need to die to stop coriander, chocolate and children’s toys from reaching Gaza? And, as Israel awaits other flotillas, will more need to be executed to enforce the policy?
Faced with this unwelcome scrutiny, Israel – as well as the United States and the European states that have been complicit in the siege – desperately wants to deflect attention away from demands for the blockade to be lifted entirely. Instead it prefers to argue that the more liberal blockade for Gaza will distinguish effectively between a necessary “security” measures and an unfair “civilian” blockade. Israel has cast itself as the surgeon who, faced with Siamese twins, is mastering the miraculous operation needed to decouple them.
The result, Mr Netanyahu told his cabinet, would be a “tightening of the security blockade because we have taken away Hamas’ ability to blame Israel for harming the civilian population”. Listen to Israeli officials and it sounds as if thousands of “civilian” items are ready to pour into Gaza. No Qassam rockets for Hamas but soon, if we are to believe them, Gaza’s shops will be as well-stocked as your average Wal-Mart.
Be sure, it won’t happen.
Even if many items are no longer banned, they still have to find their way into the enclave. Israel controls the crossing points and determines how many trucks are allowed in daily. Currently, only a quarter of the number once permitted are able to deliver their cargo, and that is unlikely to change to any significant degree. Moreover, as part of the “security” blockade, the ban is expected to remain on items such as cement and steel desperately needed to build and repair the thousands of homes devastated by Israel’s attack 18 months ago.
In any case, until Gaza’s borders, port and airspace are its own, its factories are rebuilt, and exports are again possible, the hobbled economy has no hope of recovering. For the overwhelming majority of Palestinians in Gaza, mired in poverty, the new list of permissible items – including coriander – will remain nothing more than an aspiration.
But more importantly for Israel, by concentrating our attention on the supposed ending of the “civilian” blockade, Israel hopes we will forget to ask a more pertinent question: what is the purpose of this refashioned “security” blockade? Over the years Israelis have variously been told that the blockade was imposed to isolate Gaza’s “terrorist” rulers, Hamas; to serve as leverage to stop rocket attacks on nearby Israeli communities; to prevent arms smuggling into Gaza; and to force the return of the captured soldier Gilad Shalit.
None of the reasons stands up to minimal scrutiny. Hamas is more powerful than ever; the rocket attacks all but ceased long ago; arms smugglers use the plentiful tunnels under the Egyptian border, not Erez or Karni crossings; and Sgt Shalit would already be home had Israel seriously wanted to trade him for an end to the siege.
The real goal of the blockade was set out in blunt fashion at its inception, in early 2006, shortly after Hamas won the Palestinian elections. Dov Weisglass, the government’s chief adviser at the time, said it would put Palestinians in Gaza “on a diet, but not make them die of hunger”. Aid agencies can testify to the rampant malnutrition that followed. The ultimate aim, Mr Weisglass admitted, was to punish ordinary Gazans in the hope that they would overthrow Hamas.
Is Mr Weisglass a relic of the pre-Netanyahu era, his blockade-as-diet long ago superseded? Not a bit. Only last month, during a court case against the siege, Mr Netanyahu’s government justified the policy not as a security measure but as “economic warfare” against Gaza. One document even set out the minimum calories – or “red lines”, as they were also referred to – needed by Gazans according to their age and sex.
In truth, Israel’s “security” blockade is, in both its old and new incarnations, every bit a “civilian” blockade. It was designed and continues to be “collective punishment” of the people of Gaza for electing the wrong rulers. Helpfully, international law defines the status of Israel’s policy: it is a crime against humanity.
Easing the siege so that Gaza starves more slowly may be better than nothing. But breaking 1.5 million Palestinians out of the prison Israel has built for them is the real duty of the international community.

Ed Jewett
07-11-2010, 04:40 AM
IDF tracking aid ship: Any attempt to reach Gaza will be thwarted

Barak calls Libyan ship's voyage 'unnecessary provocation'; suggests it dock in Ashdod or 'sail directly to Egypt.' Activist: Our job is to help people in need Hanan Greenberg Published: 07.10.10, 23:33 / Israel News (http://www.ynetnews.com/home/0,7340,L-3082,00.html)

The Israeli Navy is planning to keep track of the Libyan aid ship to make certain it does not try to dock in Gaza, this despite documents indicating that the vessel's destination is the El Arish harbor in Egypt.

The ship set sail (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3917763,00.html)from Greece on Saturday, and the Greek government said it had reached an agreement with the crew according to which the ship would not try to reach the Hamas-ruled territory.
Following the May 31 raid (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3917176,00.html) on a Gaza-bound flotilla, which left nine Turkish nationals dead, the Navy is taking no chances and plans to keep track of the Libyan vessel's voyage using various devices.

"Any deviation from the original course, which will lead the ship to Gaza, will be blocked by the Navy," an IDF official said Saturday night. "In case those on board fail to follow our instructions to stop and allow the Navy vessels to escort them, we will not hesitate to employ other methods to stop them."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak called the Libyan aid vessel's journey an "unnecessary provocation," and suggested that the ship allow Navy vessels to escort it to Ashdod Port "or sail directly to El Arish Port."
"Goods can be transferred to Gaza through the Ashdod Port after they are inspected, but we will not permit the transfer of weapons or ammunition to Gaza," he said.

A charity chaired by the Libyan Leader's son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is organizing the trip and said the Amalthea, re-named Hope for the trip, carried some 2,000 tons of food and medicine and complied with international rules.

The trip is expected to take between 70 and 80 hours.

One of the activists said, "Our job is to help people in need – be they Catholic, Muslim or anything else. Now we are helping the people of Gaza, who are suffering."
Roni Sofer and Reuters contributed to the report