CCTV.com - CNTV English - CCTV News

Israel eases Gaza siege, continues naval blockade

06-21-2010 08:00 BJT

JERUSALEM, June 20 (Xinhua) -- Israeli government Sunday announced moves to loosen its land blockade against the Gaza Strip, but said it will continue the naval lockdown on the Palestinian enclave.

Following a security cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office released a statement, listing steps to relax the Gaza siege, which include expanding the inflow of goods and smoothening the procedure for people to enter or leave the strip.

Israel keeps the right to decide the kind of goods allowed into the coastal area, but has agreed to let more in.

The Israeli authorities will publish a list of banned items, including weapons and "problematic" dual-use materials, to replace the current list of permitted products. All goods that are not on the list will be allowed to enter.

Unnamed sources told Xinhua that following the announcement, the Kerem-Shalom, a border crossing in southeast Gaza for delivery of humanitarian supplies, will expand its capacity by 30 percent on Monday and allow in some 130 truckloads of goods per day.

Israel will let construction materials for civilian projects enter Gaza under international supervision, the statement said, adding the projects must be authorized by the Palestinian National Authority, and receive approval from the Israeli government.

Israel has been hesitant to allow in Gaza-bound supplies of construction materials for fear that the Islamic resistance movement Hamas, which now controls Gaza, would use them to make weapons or build strongholds.

The lack of building materials has been standing in the way of Gaza's reconstruction, since most of its infrastructures and buildings were destroyed during a three-week Israeli offensive started in late 2008. Israeli government alleged that the purpose of the military operation, which claimed some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, was to stop rocket attacks from the area.

The change of policy came after the May 31 incident, when Israeli navy commandos boarded a pro-Palestinian international aid flotilla and killed nine activists on one of the ships. The bloodshed brought about a chorus of criticism against Israel from the international community, who has since been pressuring the Jewish state to lift or ease the Gaza siege.

Although Israel promised to let more commodities and people pass the land crossings on its border with Gaza, entry of sea- borne goods is still prohibited.

After the flotilla episode, as international activists are planning more convoy to challenge Israel's blockade policy, Netanyahu and other Israeli senior officials have repeatedly said the Jewish state will continue the naval lockdown.

The statement reiterated Israel's standing that Hamas is a terrorist organization, and called for the international community to press for the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier kidnapped by Gaza militants in 2006.

The decision to ease the Gaza siege was hailed by U.S. President Barack Obama.

"The United States welcomes the new policy towards Gaza announced by the Government of Israel, which responds to the calls of many in the international community," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Sunday in a statement.

Tony Blair, envoy for the peace Quartet of the UN, the U.S., the European Union and Russia, also "strongly" welcome the decision.

Last week, Netanyahu's office released a brief statement, after two days of debate about the issue at the security cabinet, saying the government agreed to let more civilian goods into Gaza. No detail was made public then.

Local daily Ha'aretz later reported that actually no binding decision was made during the cabinet meeting.

Since Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza in 2007, Israel has imposed a tight blockade upon the enclave, incurring accusations from around the world that the siege has severely worsened the humanitarian situation of some 1.5 million Gaza residents.

 

Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: Xinhua

Hot Videos view more

The celebrations are still continuing as the victorious coach, Joachim Loew, has been honored for his achievement in his hometown of Freiburg.
Germany coach Loew honored in hometown of Freiburg

Chinese men´s national team continued its preparations for next year´s Asian Cup, as they managed a one-all draw against visitors Jordan during a football friendly in Harbin, the capital city of Northeast China´s Heilongjiang Province.
China held to 1-1 draw by Jordan

The defending world champs came into the contest with a perfect 6-and-oh record, but they would be in for a tough first half before opening things up in the second.
USA beat Slovenia 119-76 in quarter-finals

Hot Stories more

UK authorities believe killer of James Foley is a British national

Across the UK the hunt is on for James Foley’s killer, who authorities believe is a British national. As Richard Bestic reports from London, Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his summer break to lead his government’s response.

Israeli war jets renews Gaza strike as truce talks stalled

Three Palestinians were killed and 40 others wounded in the intensive Israeli war jets´ airstrikes on the Gaza city on Tuesday night, shortly before an end of a 24-hour ceasefire in the Gaza Strip,

Missouri police arrest dozens after violent night

As the protests in the town of Ferguson, Missouri turned violent with police facing ´heavy gunfire´ from some ´criminal elements´, cops fired tear gas, stun grenades and arrested 31 demonstrators on Monday night.

Picture in news more

More Video News

Choose TV Program