Import levels have only increased by a third since the blockade was eased, says the reports. There has been "little improvement" for people in Gaza since Israel announced it was easing its economic blockade of the territory six months ago. That is the verdict of a new report by aid agencies and rights groups working inside the Palestinian territory. A ban on most exports from Gaza is "crippling" the economy, they say.
The report, "Dashed Hopes: Continuation of the Gaza Blockade", was compiled by 21 different groups, including Oxfam, Amnesty and Save the Children. "Only a fraction of the aid needed has made it to the civilians trapped in Gaza by the blockade," said Jeremy Hobbs, Director of Oxfam International. "Israel’s failure to live up to its commitments and the lack of international action to lift the blockade are depriving Palestinians in Gaza of access to clean water, electricity, jobs and a peaceful future," Mr Hobbs added.
The report says there has been an increase in imports such as food and consumer goods but that import levels are still only just over one-third of what they were before 2007 when the blockade was originally tightened. It also says only a tiny fraction of the construction materials needed to rebuild Gaza is being allowed in.
In June, Israel said it would allow in construction material for projects carried out by organisations such as the United Nations. But the report says Israel has so far approved only 7% of the UN’s reconstruction projects in Gaza. It says, at the current rate it will take decades to carry out the UN’s housing and schools projects in the strip.
Reuters | Sun Jul 18, 2010 | 2:45pm IST
Israel should ease its Gaza blockade further and allow Palestinians to resume exports from the territory, the European Union’s foreign policy chief said on Sunday during a visit to the Hamas-controlled enclave. "The position of the EU is very clear: that we want the opportunity for people to be able to move around freely or to see goods not only coming into Gaza but exports coming out of Gaza," Catherine Ashton told a news conference.
Israel relaxed its land blockade of the Gaza Strip, where its Islamist Hamas enemy rules, after an international outcry over its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla on May 31. But it still bans exports from the territory. Ashton said she would discuss the issue later in the day with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "At the moment, there is no proposal on the table to open a port," she said. "The best option seems to be, and that is the most supported by Palestinians, is to open the land crossings, and that’s what we’re working on."
BBC News | Monday, 12 July 2010 | 17:28 GMT
An Israeli military inquiry into the naval raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla says commandos were under-prepared and mistakes were made at a senior level. The report says the operation suffered from flawed intelligence-gathering and inadequate planning. But it also praised the commandos involved and found the use of force had been the only way to stop the flotilla. Eight Turks and one Turkish-American died in the naval raid in international waters, which provoked a major outcry. The report criticised the operation’s planners for not having a back-up plan in the event of violence. But it also said the mission had not been a failure and did not recommend any dismissals.
‘Professional and courageous’
It said there had been a lack of co-ordination between military and intelligence bodies, and preparations for the 31 May takeover of the ships had been inadequate. As they dropped from helicopters on to the deck of one vessel, the Mavi Marmara, Israeli forces were met with a violent reception, from some of those on board who were armed with clubs and knives and at least one gun, found the report. Presenting the findings to media in Tel Aviv, retired general Giora Eiland, who chaired the investigating panel, had both criticism and praise. “In this inquiry we found that there were some professional mistakes regarding both the intelligence and the decision-making process and some of the operational mistakes,” he said. “But also, we did find some very positive findings, and one of them that should be emphasised is the very professional and courageous way that the Israeli commando behaved.”
General Eiland said the report was intended to help prepare Israel for similar situations which may occur in the future. The Eiland Committee, which began its work on 7 June, scrutinised the military aspects of the raid. A separate inquiry, which includes international observers, is examining whether international law was broken during the military raid. In a statement, Israeli military chief of staff Lt Gen Gabi Ashkenazi said the Eiland inquiry had not Continue reading
BBC News | Saturday, 10 July 2010 | 19:00 GMT
A ship with supplies for Gaza will dock at el-Arish in Egypt, officials say, after Israeli pressure to stop the vessel breaking its Gaza blockade. The Moldovan-flagged ship chartered by a charity run by the son of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi, left a Greek port on Saturday. Israel asked for help from the UN, and had talks with Greece and Moldova. But organisers insist they will go to Gaza. An Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound ship in May killed nine Turkish activists. Israel insisted its troops were defending themselves but the raid sparked international condemnation. Israel recently eased its blockade, allowing in almost all consumer goods but maintaining a "blacklist" of some items. Israel says its blockade of the Palestinian territory is needed to prevent the supply of weapons to the Hamas militant group which controls Gaza.
The Amalthea, renamed Hope for the mission, set off from the Greek port of Lavrio, loaded with about 2,000 tonnes of food, cooking oil, medicines and pre-fabricated houses. It has been chartered by the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation. Its chairman is Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. The organisation said the 92m (302ft) vessel would also carry "a number of supporters who are keen on expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people". The BBC’s Malcolm Brabant in Lavrio says the Libyans clearly believe the time is right to test Israel’s resolve to maintain the naval blockade. Israel carried out intense diplomatic activity to prevent the Amalthea reaching Gaza.
Reuters | Sat Jun 26, 2010 | 3:47pm IST
Iranian lawmakers protesting at Israel’s blockade of Gaza plan to travel on an aid ship that plans to leave from Lebanon, an official said on Saturday. Lebanon said last week it would allow a Gaza-bound ship called the Julia to sail, via Cyprus, despite warnings from Israel that it reserved the right to use all necessary means to stop ships that tried to sail from Lebanon to Gaza. Mahmoud Ahmadi-Beighash, a member of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, said Iranian parliament delegates could sail on the ship rather than attempt to enter Gaza via Egypt.
"A ship is going from Lebanon to Gaza in the course of the current week and the lawmakers are following up to go to Gaza via this ship," he said in comments carried by semi-official news agency ISNA. Ahmadi-Beighash said the decision to use the ship in Lebanon rather than Egypt’s land border with Gaza was taken in a meeting with parliament speaker Ali Larijani. Ships with Iranian aid for Gaza left this month but it was not clear if they would unload in Egypt. Earlier this year, Egypt refused permission to an Iranian aid boat to unload after an Israeli warship told the aid boat to leave as it approached the coastal enclave of Gaza.
BBC News | Thursday, 17 June 2010 | 12:32 GMT
Israel has announced it will ease the land blockade of the Gaza Strip and allow more civilian goods to enter the Palestinian territory. It comes amid growing international pressure to end the embargo. An Israeli commando raid on an aid flotilla attempting to break the naval blockade of Gaza last month was widely condemned. Israel and Egypt tightened the blockade after the Islamist Hamas movement took control of Gaza in 2007. The decision to ease the land blockade was agreed by Israel’s security cabinet after a two-day meeting. The move will see an expansion in the number of products Israel will allow into Gaza via border crossing points, although the naval blockade will remain in place.
The new Israeli-approved product list includes all food items, toys, stationery, kitchen utensils, mattresses and towels; Reuters news agency quotes Raed Fattouh, Palestinian co-ordinator of supplies to Gaza, as saying. An Israeli government statement said construction materials for civilian projects would also be allowed in under international supervision. Israel has until now blocked materials like cement and steel, arguing that Hamas could use them to build weapons and fortifications.
BBC News | Wednesday, 16 June 2010 | 14:42 GMT
Israel’s security cabinet has met to consider easing the blockade of Gaza, amid growing international pressure to end the embargo. The cabinet is set to reconvene on Thursday after the meeting was adjourned without any decisions. Israel’s policy on Gaza has come under scrutiny since its navy attacked a flotilla of ships attempting to deliver aid to Palestinians last month. Meanwhile, the UN says Israel has agreed to let it distribute the aid.
Israel’s security cabinet met to discuss how to ease restrictions on goods and materials allowed into Gaza. The international Middle East Envoy, Tony Blair, has said that he was confident that Israeli leaders would agree to a partial lifting of the blockade. Under a plan drawn up in co-ordination with Mr Blair, Israel could adopt a new list of banned items, rather than the current list of permitted goods, which critics claim is arbitrary. Israel and Egypt tightened their blockade on Gaza after the Islamist Hamas movement took control of the Palestinian territory in 2007.
Israel says the aim of the blockade is to prevent war material entering Gaza and to allow the entry of humanitarian aid. But pressure has built on Israel to end the blockade since its troops shot and killed nine people on board a Turkish-backed vessel of an aid flotilla on 31 May. The ships were attempting