Military goods still blocked; construction materials OK
JERUSALEM – Israel pledged Sunday it will immediately allow all goods into Gaza except weapons and items deemed to have a military use under its decision to ease its 3-year-old blockade of the Palestinian territory.
The list of banned goods replaces an old list of allowed items that permitted only basic humanitarian supplies for the 1.5 million Gazans. Under the new system, the government said practically all nonmilitary items can enter Gaza freely.
“From now on, there is a green light of approval for all goods to enter Gaza except for military items and materials that can strengthen Hamas’ military machine,” Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said.
Israel decided on Thursday to ease the blockade under intense international pressure after its raid on a blockade-busting international flotilla bound for Gaza killed nine pro-Palestinian activists.
In a critical shift, Israel said it would allow construction materials into Gaza for projects approved by the Palestinian Authority, such as housing and schools, as long as the projects are under international supervision. Up to now, Israel has banned most construction materials, including cement.
Construction materials are a critical need in Gaza. Thousands of buildings were destroyed or damaged in Israel’s military operation in Gaza a year and a half ago, aimed at stopping years of daily rocket attacks by Gaza militants. Because of the blockade, little repair or rebuilding has been done since the war ended.
The list of banned items was not released Sunday, but the government said it will be published.