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Israel's Lifting of Gaza Blockade Means Junk Food, But No Cement to Rebuild Damaged BuildingsSalem-News.com
The marginal easement is a step in the right direction, but a very small one.
(JERUSALEM) - Some food items that had been banned under Israel's and Egypt's blockade of the Gaza Strip, are now finding their way into this battered, walled and tortured land. The Gaza Freedom Flotilla set out with a goal of breaking the several years old siege that has brought this population to piteous depths of poverty, the likes of which even this place had been able to avoid. Reporters with the Times of India spoke to officials Wednesday, who agree that it is a small step toward easing its three-year-old blockade of the territory, after worldwide criticism of last week’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound international flotilla. The decision only narrowly expands the list of goods that can enter Gaza — and most of the newly permitted items are already being smuggled into the area from neighboring Egypt. The move also does not include the most-sought items in Gaza, such as cement, steel and other materials needed to rebuild the war-devastated strip. But it is the first tangible step by Israel to temper the uproar caused by the raid, which left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead after a clash with Israeli naval commandos on one of the flotilla’s ships. Palestinian liaison official Raed Fattouh, who coordinates the flow of goods into Gaza with Israel, said that soda, juice, jam, spices, shaving cream, potato chips, cookies and candy were now permitted. He said some products have already entered Gaza, and others would cross in the coming days. The naval raid drew attention to the blockade, imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas militants seized power in Gaza in 2007. The closure has devastated Gaza’s already battered economy, erased tens of thousands of jobs and prevented the area from repairing damage after a fierce Israeli military offensive in Gaza early last year. Wednesday’s gesture was unlikely to blunt the global criticism, since it doesn’t lift the ban on materials needed to rebuild Gaza. ======================================================= Special thanks to the Times of India
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