Fair Policy, Fair Discussion

June 21, 2010

Far from Ideal: Gaza Blockade Eased

Following international pressure and diplomatic discussions with Egyptian, US and Quartet representatives, Israel’s security cabinet announced Sunday that it would change its blockade policy for the Gaza Strip.  At present only 114 items are allowed into the Strip, but according to the announced easing of the Gaza blockade a new “black list” of unpermitted goods will replace the current highly restrictive policy. The PM Binyamin Netanyahu confirmed that all goods, other than “weapons and materials Hamas uses”, will  be allowed into the Palestinian territory while adding that a finalized list of items not allowed will be released as soon as possible.

While the exact definition of a “material Hamas uses” is not clear, the announcement certainly paves the way for humanitarian aid and some construction materials to soon enter the Gaza Strip.  Heavy limitations, however, remain on the construction materials allowed, as they must be for Palestinian Authority-approved projects and kept under international supervision.  Netanyahu described these new allowances as “eliminating Hamas’ main propoganda claim and allow[ing] [Israel]…to face [their] real concerns in the realm of security.”

Israel’s Prime Minister may want to spin the announced easement by transforming a highly-criticized civilian blockade into a legitimate security strategy, but this attitude ignores not only the illegality of the blockade but also just how grim the situation in Gaza is.  Simply allowing more food items and heavily-supervised construction materials may alleviate some of the daily suffering, but  such an allowance does not address long-term economic  development considerations for Gaza.  As Gaza City resident Nasser al-Helo said, “I don’t need ketchup or mayonnaise from Israel.  I need my business back.”

Israel’s blockade, in place since 2007, has devastated private industry in the Gaza Strip, as factories have been unable to obtain the raw materials to produce  their goods.   Due to these restrictions on goods, as well as the prohibition on Gazans crossing to work in Israel, which 100,000 Palestinians from the Strip used to do, the unemployment rate to reach a staggering 40% according to UN estimates.  Especially considering most food items are already available in the Gaza Strip from smuggling tunnels along the border with Egypt, the announced easement’s increased allowance for humanitarian and food aid appears to be propaganda aimed at alleviating international criticism rather than a meaningful policy or attitude change.

If Israel truly wanted to end Hamas’ “propoganda claim” it would have to entirely lift the current blockade of Gaza, which imprisons 1.5 million people in the name of national security, instead of  barely easing it.

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2 Comments »

  1. Hope is the most important ingredient for any populace. The blockade does not allow for Gazans to engage in hopeful activity. But There is no humanitarian crisis in the strip – i know from friends who work there regularly. But thats by the by.

    Internati0nal pressure will ahve no impact until the impact is several-fold

    1. On Egypt- its an Eyptian Israeli blockade. Lets not forget this.Just focusing on Israel is defeatist. ALso just focusing on Israel will back Israel into a corner from which it will not make concessions
    2. On Hamas- to stop weapon stocking, to release Shalit (or his body) in a unilateral gesture of goodwill. THis will put more pressure on Israel than any other action.
    Lets not forget there was no blockade and business integration before suicide bombings, rocket attacks etc etc. No its not black and white but focusing on Israel alone will produce zip zerio outcomes.
    3. On Fatah – they are in reality in support of the blockade no matter what you really want to believe and they and Hamas need to settle their differences.
    4. Yes – on Israel too.

    Hamas by their actions at the moment do not warrant a total easing ofthe blockade. No country and especially one as threatened as Israel would intelligently do so. ANd trust me Saudi Arabia, Egypt etc woudlnt want a total easing of the blockade either – no matter what you want to believe.

    Comment by david — June 21, 2010 @ 7:42 pm | Reply

  2. The United States denounces Hamas as a terrorist organization. But actions by Israel and Egypt somehow escape this label. From what I have been able to discover, the Mubarak regime uses torture freely and makes vigorous use of its secret police in the service of maintaining the regime. I’d call that terrorism. And Israel – armed attack from land, sea and sky on an already blockaded urban area in Operation Cast Lead is not terrorism? Rather than setting a good example for the world, during the Bush administration there was a frightening tendency by the United States to ape the actions of Israel – unilateral announcements that we would do as we wish, and contempt for the UN, for example. Obama is definitely an improvement, moving slowly, but at least moving in the proper direction.

    Comment by Clif Brown — June 21, 2010 @ 10:37 pm | Reply


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