The Israeli Foreign Ministry, as reported earlier, did release “the lists” — of items specifically prohibited by Israel from entering Gaza, otherwise known as “Lists of Controlled Entry Items”.
This is being described as a “significant easing” of the system that has been in place around Gaza.
The lists are published here, and they are:
List no. 1: Items Subject to Specific Permission – (a) arms and munitions, or (b) dual-use items [those “liable to be used, side by side with their civilian purposes, for the development, production, installation or enhancement of military capabilities and terrorist capacities” – in this list of dual-use items, Israel is incorporating a list developed by countries who have voluntarily joined something called the Wassenaar Arrangements [see here for more information], plus the Control of Exports Security Order (Controlled Dual Use Equipment Transferred to the PA Areas) 5768-2008, and an additional number of items banned by specific Israeli military orders issued by the Israeli Defense Forces Central Command headquarters].
List No. 2: Construction Items and Materials – to be Allowed Entry into Gaza only for (a) PA-authorized Projects that are (b) implemented and monitored by the international community.
[There are some items that are not allowed into the West Bank, either — but the control system is not – yet – what it is in Gaza.]
Everything else is supposed to be permitted.
IDF spokesperson’s unit video of U.S. Special Envoy for the Middle East George Mitchell, visiting the Kerem Shalom control point on 30 June
According to the IDF video, George Mitchell said to the cameras and microphones: “This is part of an ongoing effort … In addition to pursuing the proximity talks, I welcome this opportunity to visit Kerem Shalom … These arrangements should significantly improve conditions for Palestinians in Gaza. I saw firsthand today that progress is being made … Israel has legitimate security concerns. The U.S. strongly reaffirms Israel’s right to self-defense and we support international efforts to prevent the trafficking of arms and ammunition into Gaza. We’re standing not far from the place where Gilad Shalit was abducted. He soon enters his fourth year of captivity by Hamas. His continued captivity is deplorable and unacceptable. We condemn his detention … + the inhumane conditions in which he is held, including Hamas’ refusal to provide access to him by the ICRC”…
Sari Bashi, director of the Israeli human rights organization GISHA, who has worked with a group of other Israeli and Palestinian groups in the Israeli Supreme Court to repeal what she calls the collective punishment of 1.5 million civilians in Gaza, and then more recently filed a Freedom of Information petition asking what, exactly, was allowed into Gaza [and what criteria were used to decide] told journalists in Jerusalem today that “cement is not on that [Wassenaar] list — there is nothing dangerous about cement”.
Cement is prohibited by the Israeli internal legislation mentioned [above] by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs — except for projects “implemented and monitored” by the UN. That is not enough, Bashi said, either for private consumers or businesses — though, she noted, Hamas right now is able to get cement through the tunnels dug under Gaza’s border with Egypt at Rafah.
The new regulations do not yet permit any exports from Gaza, she noted.
And, “at this point, no raw materials are being allowed in” either, she said — certainly not in bulk.
And, she expressed concern about the shutting down of most other crossings that have been used in the past for transfer of goods to Gaza — leaving only one crossing still functioning, Kerem Shalom, the southernmost one, at the point where the borders of Gaza, Egypt, and Sinai meet. This, she said, “limits the connection between the West Bank and Gaza”, and it poses a risk that if that one crossing is closed down for any reason, “then Gaza is completely cut off”.
Bashi also said that “in the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access, Israeli agreed to redundancy of crossings, but since 2007 this has been reversed, and Israel has been progressively closing crossings”.
“What we need is, indeed, a security-based regime”, Bashi noted, “international law allows the occupying power to control what goes into an area — subject only to concrete security checks”.
When the Freedom Flotilla sailed [and then was subject to an Israeli Navy assault at sea], Bashi noted” “Israel said ‘we need to be secure, so we must stop and check the ships’. That was accepted by the international community, and it’s fine under international law, but that’s not where we’re headed. So we are asking the international community to insist on consistency — it should ask that the policy be based only on security criteria”.
Bashi said the Government plan, “if they are to be believed, would allow only 70 percent of what Gaza received in 2005 — that would be 250 truckloads a day through Kerem Shalom, and 120 truckloads of materials would cross on a conveyor belt at the otherwise-closed Karni crossing. That would be a maximum of 7,700 truckloads a month”, whereas in 2005 some 10,400 truckloads entered Gaza per month.
An information sheet just published by GISHA states that “restrictions continue to apply to items that could be used for industry and manufacturing and on goods with no apparent security correlation. In that sense, despite the promise of facilitating economic activity in Gaza, there does not yet appear to be a change in the policy of inflicting ‘economic warfare’ on Gaza by preventing entry of goods necessary for production”.
The information sheet also said that “it is not clear how the current operational capacity of the crossings, as Israel is allowing them to operate, can meet demand”.
UN officials have said that pre-2007-siege deliveries to Gaza via Israeli crossings were between 400 and 600 truckloads a day, for 1.5 million people. And, GISHA’s position paper indicates that pre-2007-siege exports from Gaza averaged 400 truckloads a day.
And, the GISHA paper said, “movement of people remains limited to ‘humanitarian’ cases and employees of international organizations [n.b. – and non-Israeli journalists accredited by the Israeli Government Press Office] all indications point to continued and severe movement restrictions between Gaza and the West Bank”.
As the AP’s Karin Laub noted in a report from Kerem Shalom, “the new rules are unlikely to restore the territory’s devastated economy or allow rebuilding of all that was destroyed in last year’s war”. She reported that among the goods that showed up today at Kerem Shalom were washing machines, and mattresses — items previously banned. She quoted GISHA’s Sari Bashi as saying: “Gaza residents can now purchase Israeli-made products, but they are still prevented from engaging in dignified, productive work and from traveling”. This is posted here.
The Israeli Ministry of Defense’s Coordinator of [Israeli] Government Activities in the [Palestinian] territories, or COGAT, has put out a document, entitled “The Civilian Policy Towards the Gaza Strip – implementation of the Cabinet Decision (June 2010)”. It says that “The adjustment of the civilian aspects of Israel’s policy regarding the Gaza Strip began in early 2010”, and it says that what is going on now is “liberalizing the system by which civilian goods enter Gaza”.
The COGAT document states that “In accordance with the Security Cabinet’s decision (20th June 2010), the civilian aspects of Israel’s policy regarding the Gaza Strip were adjusted, in order to provide relief to the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, while preventing the entry of weapons and other materials that can be used by the Hamas terror regime to harm the citizens of the State of Israel”. It can be viewed in full here.
Israeli media reports suggested that how to get these items into Gaza was the subject of discussion when Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak — who rules the occupied Palestinian territory — and Palestinian appointed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad met this afternoon at the King David Hotel in West Jerusalem.
(The Palestinians tried to put a different spin on the meeting, saying that Fayyad demanded the cessation of all “unilateral actions in Jerusalem” and cancellation of Israeli “deportation” orders for four Palestinian politicians from East Jerusalem who were elected in January 2006 to the Palestinian Legislative Council, or PLC, on the Hamas-affiliated Change and Reform Party ticket.)