Israeli military now allows 81 items into Gaza Strip — for 1.5 million people

According to the new list, Israel’s military now allows 81 items into the Gaza Strip. Israel addressing the needs of 1.5 million Palestinians who are trapped in the small coastal strip.

This is up, somewhat, from the list of 10 or so categories of essential items that Israeli allowed to enter Gaza in November 2007, as we reported at the time here: According to an AP report from Gaza today, “Israel allows in 10 basic items — cooking oil, salt, rice, sugar, wheat, dairy products, frozen vegetables, frozen meat, medical equipment and medicine”..

The BBC reported that it obtained the latest list, together with several other documents the Israeli military recently submitted to court.

The new list is posted here.

What’s new, in April (this has been previously reported elsewhere, but not quite so starkly) is that wood (“for doorposts and window frames”), aluminum, and kitchenware, are now being allowed back inSoi.

What was added in March was: tahini (sesame paste), combs + brushes, clothes + shoes.

Mineral water was permitted in February 2010.

Since an Israeli government decision on 19 September 2007 (three months after a Hamas rout of Fatah/Palestinian Preventive Security forces), the Israeli military has been administering — without any supervision — a blockade affecting 1.5 million human beings in the Gaza Strip.

After ruling against court challenges by a group of Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups led by the Tel Aviv-based organization, GISHA, the Israeli Supreme Court permitted the restrictions on condition that the Israeli military not allow a “humanitarian crisis” to develop.

GISHA went back to court in January to try to get more information about the military-administered sanctions.

Since its unilateral “disengagement” in 2005, the Israeli government maintains that it is no longer occupying Gaza — but many international organizations, international law experts, and other countries disagree.

The BBC reported that “Israel has never published a list of banned items, saying it approves requests on a case-by-case basis. Items allowed have changed over time, which has left humanitarian organisations and commercial importers constantly attempting to guess what will be approved … In one document, Israel describes the import curbs as ‘a central pillar … in the armed conflict with Hamas’. It also confirms estimates were made of how many calories Gazans need, but says these were not used for policy-making … The Israeli authorities also confirm the existence of four documents related to how the blockade works: how they process requests for imports into Gaza, how they monitor the shortages within Gaza, their approved list of what is allowed in, and a document entitled ‘Food Consumption in the Gaza Strip – Red Lines’ which sets out the minimum calorie intake needed by Gaza’s million and a half inhabitants, according to their age and sex. This paper was however, the state insists, just a draft power-point presentation, used for ‘internal planning work’, which ‘never served as a basis for the policy of the authority’. But while the first three documents promise a great deal of detail, that detail is not delivered. In each case, the state argues that disclosure of what is allowed in and why would, in their words, ‘damage national security and harm foreign relations’. It offers, instead, to reveal the contents of the documents to the court in a private session with the judge”. This report can be read in full here.

As Juan Cole reminds us, on his Informed Comment blog, here, half of the population of Gaza are children. and almost half of the adult population is unemployed.

He also linked to the most recent Operational Update, published on 29 April, from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which reported that “In Gaza, the blockade imposed nearly three years ago continued to severely hinder transfers into the Strip of essential medical equipment, thus putting at risk the immediate treatment and long-term health of thousands of patients … The run-down state of medical equipment in Gaza makes it very difficult to provide adequate care. Because of the blockade imposed on the Strip, broken or damaged machines or tools can seldom be replaced or repaired … Meanwhile, a lack of coordination between the health ministries in Ramallah and Gaza, coupled with complex and lengthy Israeli procedures for transferring goods into Gaza, severely limited the supply of medicine and disposables such as colostomy bags. Stocks of 110 essential drugs and supplies have been exhausted and can no longer be found in Gaza hospitals. In its regular deliveries of supplies to the hospitals, the ICRC has endeavoured to meet the most urgent needs, for example by providing skin disinfectant and fluorescent dye used in ophthalmologic examination … Moreover, reserves of industrial fuel continued to dry up, resulting in electricity being available only 60 per cent of the time. Power cuts were unpredictable and frequent, and jeopardized the proper functioning of hospitals. All of these factors contributed to a worrisome pattern of declining health-care services. ‘It is the sick and the wounded who are paying the price of restrictions imposed on medical spare parts. It is also they who are suffering from patchy cooperation between the ministries of health in Ramallah and Gaza’, said Pierre Wettach, the ICRC’s head of delegation in Israel and the occupied territories. ‘We call on all parties to assume their responsibilities and act quickly to ease the transfer of drugs, disposables and medical spare parts needed for medical treatment’.” This ICRC Operational Update is pubished here.

The ICRC also noted, in its update, that it has still not been allowed to visit Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, captured in a cross-border raid in June 2006, and reportedly held in Gaza since then — nor has the ICRC been able to arrange ofr an exchange of messages between Shalit and his family. “The ICRC has again lodged a request at the highest level of Hamas for the exchange of Red Cross messages to be allowed between captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and his family, who have not had direct contact with him since he was captured in June 2006. Both this request and requests to visit Mr Shalit have been repeatedly turned down”.

After Israel’s major military operation in Gaza, Operation Cast Lead (27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009), government and military leaders said that the crossings into Gaza would not be opened, and the blockade against would be maintained, until Gilad Shalit was safely returned home from Gaza.

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