Israeli Deputy FM says military-administered sanctions on Gaza were "ineffective"

It appears that National Public Radio (NPR) correspondent in Jerusalem, Lourdes Garcia Navarro, managed to get a big admission from Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon: Israel’s two-and-a-half-year-old program of military-administered punitive sanctions against Gaza was “not that effective”. The Israeli military sanctions, which were to have been progressively tightened, were unsupervised by any other government body, After consideration of a petition by Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups, led by GISHA, against the military sanctions policy, the Israeli Supreme Court refused to intervene, other than to instruct the military that it was not to cause a “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza.

The military sanctions followed a determination by Israeli Government cabinet ministers in September 2007 that Gaza was a “hostile territory”, or an “enemy entity”, less than three months after a Hamas rout of Fatah/Palestinian Preventive Security forces in the Gaza Strip.

In her radio report, aired on NPR’s All Things Considered program on August 30, 2010, Navarro reported that:

    “…this summer, Israel came under heavy international pressure to ease the blockade, after an Israeli military raid on a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead.

    Mr. DANNY AYALON (Deputy Foreign Minister, Israel): Actions like a flotilla certainly is trying to put Israel in a no-win situation.

    GARCIA-NAVARRO: Danny Ayalon is Israel’s deputy foreign minister. He says Israel has to keep weapons and items that could be used for military fortifications out of Gaza, which is why it retains such tight restrictions on the land and sea borders. But he acknowledged in an interview with NPR that the punishing, three-year ban on most foodstuffs and other commodities was a mistake.

    Mr. AYALON: Denying different items or products into Gaza was not that effective. Hence, now we have changed the policy altogether.

    GARCIA-NAVARRO: But people would say that you’re – that what you’re saying now is disingenuous, that this is only in reaction to pressure put on you after the Turkish flotilla incident.

    Mr. AYALON: It certainly expedited this decision, but I believe this decision would have come up anyway“.

The transcript of this NPR report is posted here.

For an idea of exactly how the Israeli blockade of Gaza was — though brutal — just “not that effective”, see Nicholas Pelham’s report to MERIP, posted here.