Israel's easing of Gaza blockade doesn't address banking, travel rules
Israel's announcement yesterday of an easing of the Gaza blockade on civilians meets international demands. But the UN and other groups are waiting to see how much actually changes on the ground.
(Page 2 of 2)
"It is not the end of the blockade,'' says Sari Bashi, the director of the Israeli nongovernmental group Gisha, which has pressed to lift movement restrictions.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
"For the first time since June 2007, Israel is talking about the need to allow economic activity in Gaza. The changes announced last night are far from sufficient to make that happen."
An Israeli government official told the Monitor that exports and banking provisions are still being discussed.
Netanyahu under fire for caving to pressure
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under criticism at home for caving to international pressure and strengthening Hamas, which had called for an end to the blockade.
Mr. Netanyahu cast the decision as an effort to undermine Hamas's "main propaganda claim" that Israel is inflicting a humanitarian crisis on Gaza, thus freeing Israel to sharpen the blockade's focus on Israel's main concern: Iranian weapons shipments reaching Hamas by sea.
Proponents of easing the siege said that Netanyahu, who had privately considered easing the blockade before the flotilla episode, forfeited diplomatic benefits by not deciding on the shift sooner.
"Some of the benefits are being overshadowed. He looks like he folded under pressure, and some of the ramifications are not positive. This is a victory for Hamas and Turkey, and it will weaken [the US-backed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank]," says Yossi Alpher, the co-editor of Bitterlemons.org, an online Israeli-Palestinian opinion forum. "Hamas and Turkey can legitimately say that this government only understands force.''
COVER STORY: What drives Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu?
- Cover story: What drives Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu?
- Israel eases Gaza blockade, allowing building supplies and ketchup
- All Israel news coverage