Posts Tagged ‘blockade’
On the Egyptian side:
On the Gaza side:
In a piece on female protest movements, BBC Radio 4′s ‘Point of View’ mentions the all-woman humanitarian aid ship, the Mariam, heading for Gaza:
True equality will only have been achieved when women are punished as harshly as men for their misdemeanours, says Lisa Jardine in her Point of View column.
A ship carrying humanitarian aid, “manned” entirely by women, is ready to leave Lebanon on the first leg of its journey to Gaza in an attempt to break the Israeli blockade. Named the Mariam (the Aramaic version of Mary), it has a multi-faith international passenger list, including doctors, lawyers and a group of American nuns.
History is full of unexpected precedents where human behaviour is concerned. Although the Mariam initiative has been dubbed by some a publicity stunt, the historian of 16th and 17th-Century Europe encounters groups of ordinary working women acting in a disorderly manner surprisingly often.
As for their contemporary counterpart – the women sailing on the Mariam – I have little doubt that their intention is to show the world that their attempt to help the beleaguered residents of Gaza is solely humanitarian.
They presumably anticipate a less hostile response from the crews of the Israeli ships sent to intercept them en route than that meted out to their male counterparts. Perhaps we should consider whether we might only have arrived at real equality when women are no longer accorded their traditional licence occasionally to misbehave with impunity.
Read the full transcript at the BBC website… (including a number of comments from listeners/readers)
Lamis Andoni opinion piece for AJE’s Focus
While most Israeli leaders are resistant to fully lifting the blockade of Gaza, Avigdor Lieberman, the right-wing foreign minister, is advocating that Israel abandon the Strip to international monitoring and economic rehabilitation.
The proposal, recently leaked to the Israeli press, does not amount to freeing Gaza but rather to placing it under European sea and land inspections and a reconstruction plan.
If implemented, it will permanently sever the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, transforming the Strip into an internationally supervised ghetto – with the dual purpose of ensuring Israeli security and reigning in the Palestinian population.
The isolation of Gaza would further undermine the vision of a contiguous Palestinian state or any form of equitable coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis. It would also divide those families with members in the West Bank, creating a permanent schism in Palestinian society and deepening the sense of fragmentation.
Hamas would effectively be ruling a development project with no meaningful ties to the rest of the Palestinian people.
Harriet Sherwood writes in The Guardian about the former EU commissioner’s comments during a visit to Gaza on Sunday:
Former EU commissioner Chris Patten calls Gaza blockade an immoral failure and says bloc must be more independent
The European Union must shake off US dominance and take a bolder approach in pressing for a settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the former EU commissioner Chris Patten said today on a visit to Gaza.
Israel’s policy of blockading Gaza had been a “terrible failure – immoral, illegal and ineffective”, he said, which had “deliberately triggered an economic and social crisis which has many humanitarian consequences”.
In an interview with the Guardian, the former Conservative cabinet minister suggested it was time to reassess the isolation of Hamas, saying that approach had failed to weaken it.
Patten’s visit, his first since 2002, coincided with a lightning second trip by the EU foreign policy chief, Lady Ashton, who called on Israel to open Gaza’s borders rather than merely allow in more consumer goods.
Ashton’s second visit since her appointment last December “showed a preparedness to be more independent-minded,” said Patten. “The default European position should not be to wait to find out what the Americans are going to do, and if the Americans don’t do anything to wring our hands. We should be prepared to be more explicit in setting out Europe’s objectives and doing more to try to implement them.”
He implicitly criticised US dominance of the Middle East quartet – the US, EU, UN and Russia – by saying he concurred with the description of it by the leader of the Arab League as the “quartet sans trois”.
Patten, who found it “easier to get into a maximum security prison in the UK than to enter Gaza”, said Israel’s relaxation of its blockade had not gone far enough. “It’s moved from about minus 10 to about minus eight. It doesn’t do anything to help restore economic activity in Gaza.
“It’s difficult to understand what preventing exports has to do with security. It has everything to do with the view that Gaza should be collectively punished to discredit Hamas. Unfortunately there are some centuries, if not millennia, of history that show that does not work. Presumably the international community as well as Israel wants at some stage – sooner rather than later – to be able to persuade Gaza and its political leadership to take a course which will lead to reconciliation and peace and stability. It’s difficult to know how you accomplish that if you deny the people of Gaza any social or economic progress.”
On earlier visits, he said, he had observed “a community that was poor, but at least economic activity was taking place”. Since the blockade, “economic and commercial life has been squeezed out of Gaza in what looks and feels and is like a medieval siege”.
Israel’s change in policy was not a “fundamental shift in its position but it has plainly deflated some of the criticism” following the lethal assault on the aid flotilla on 31 May. That, he added, was “a terrible own goal” for Israel.
On negotiations with Hamas, Patten referred to his involvement with the Northern Ireland peace process, which “would not have been successfully concluded if we hadn’t – with considerable American encouragement – agreed to talk to Sinn Fein/IRA.
“You don’t always agree with people you talk to – indeed sometimes you find them despicable – but you need to ease them out of the corners into which they’ve painted themselves rather than lay on the paint much thicker.
“I think it’s wholly reasonable to say we couldn’t deal with Hamas unless they agreed to a comprehensive and complete ceasefire. But do we need to insist on them accepting all past agreements? Has Israel accepted all past agreements? If you simply isolate them, do you weaken them?” In fact, he said, “you strengthen people who are even more extreme than they are”.
Before crossing to Gaza with the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians, of which he is president, Patten visited the West Bank and was shocked by the “huge new settlements”.
“We’re told there is an ‘unprecedented freeze’, but I saw large numbers of houses and flats being built as we speak. One of the key elements of a final agreement [between Israel and the Palestinians] will be how you cope with settlements. The more difficult it is to secure a viable and contiguous Palestinian state, the more difficult a final agreement will be.”
If two states were no longer possible, then there would have to be one state on the land, he said. “But can you have that and retain a Jewish state which is democratic? I haven’t heard anyone argue that convincingly.”
He said public opinion in Europe and Britain was moving in favour of a change in Israeli policy towards Palestinians, but that could be endangered by growing demands for a boycott of Israel.
“I don’t think a boycott would help,” he said. “It could have the reverse consequences to those intended.”
BBC News quotes Baroness Ashton during her second visit to Gaza in six months:
The position of the European Union is very clear: that we want the opportunity for people to be able to move around freely or to see goods, not only coming into Gaza but exports coming out of Gaza [..] and that is the position that we will be discussing with the Israeli government, as well as of course making sure that we’re putting the right kind of pressure out to the international community.
Read the report at BBC News: “EU envoy urges Israel to open Gaza borders”
AJE reports on a Moldovan registered ship being sent by the Libyans:
Organisers of a Libya-sponsored aid ship have said they will continue their attempt to break the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, despite Israeli claims that the vessel would instead sail to Egypt.
Yousseuf Sawani, a director of the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, told Al Jazeera that there were no plans for the Al-Amal to dock at the port El-Arish.
“This is definitely a part of the campaign against the ship, a campaign of distortion, but we are definitely heading towards Gaza, because that is where aid should be heading to,” he told Al Jazeera.
“This is a purely humane mission, it is neither provocative nor hostile,” he said.
The ship set sail from Greece on Saturday, carrying 2,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip, but the Israeli foreign ministry said that it had reached an agreement with Greece and Moldova to have the ship diverted to Egypt.
Israeli authorities also reportedly contacted Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian intelligence chief, to request that the ship be allowed to dock in El-Arish, close to the border with the Gaza Strip.
Jonathan Cook on Sabbah Report:
As Israel this week declared the “easing” of the four-year blockade of Gaza, an official explained the new guiding principle: “Civilian goods for civilian people.” The severe and apparently arbitrary restrictions on foodstuffs entering the enclave – coriander bad, cinnamon good – will finally end, we are told. Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants will have all the coriander they want.
This “adjustment”, as the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu termed it, is aimed solely at damage limitation. With Israel responsible for killing nine civilians aboard a Gaza-bound aid flotilla three weeks ago, the world has finally begun to wonder what purpose the siege serves. Did those nine really need to die to stop coriander, chocolate and children’s toys from reaching Gaza? And, as Israel awaits other flotillas, will more need to be executed to enforce the policy?
Chocolate biscuits are on another ‘list’:
List no. 1: Items Subject to Specific Permission
Arms and Munitions: forbidden transfer under all circumstances across Israel’s frontiers without specific permits – as defined in the Control of Exports Security Order (Arms and Munitions) 5768-2008, and in the Control of Exports Security Order (Missile Equipment) 5768-2008.
Dual Use goods and items: liable to be used, side by side with their civilian purposes, for the development, production, installation or enhancement of military capabilities and terrorist capacities. This list comprises:
- Items listed under the Wassenaar Arrangement: As specified in the updated (2008) “Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Arms and Dual Use Goods and Technologies – List of Dual Use Goods and Technologies and Munitions List.”
- Items whose entry into the PA Areas is controlled based on Israeli legislation: i.e. materials and equipment liable to be used for terror attacks and technology that could be used by terrorists – as defined in the Control of Exports Security Order (Controlled Dual Use Equipment Transferred to the PA Areas) 5768-2008 and in Orders of the OC Central Command. These lists include, in detail:
- a range of chemicals used in the production of explosives (including certain fertilizers);
- specific types of metal profiles;
- ball bearings;
- lathes and their parts;
- composite materials;
- hunting knives and machetes;
- optical equipment, such as lasers and night vision goggles;
- certain navigation aides;
- diving equipment;
- parachutes, gliders and other nonmotorized airborne vehicles;
- flares and fireworks;
- avionics and flight control equipment;
- missile related computer technologies;
- rock drills and equipment drawing water from excavated sites.
Items not necessarily included in the lists above but whose entry into Gaza is controlled, as detailed below:
- i. Items and chemicals which could be used in the production of high trajectory weapons (rockets and mortars) by Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza – Fertilizers or other mixtures – specifically containing KCl at more than 5%; Epoxy and Vinyl Ester resins; Hardeners for Epoxy Resins containing Amides or Amines; Accelerators for Vinyl Esters; HTPB; Water purification solutions at concentrations higher than 11%.
- ii. Items used as raw materials for improving protection for terror activists
- Fibers or woven fabrics containing Carbon or Glass variants.
- iii. Vessels.
List No. 2: Construction Items and Materials to be Allowed Entry into Gaza only for PA-authorized Projects Implemented by the International Community
While such items are liable to be used for Hamas military purposes (building bunkers, fortifying positions and digging tunnels) Israel will permit their entry into Gaza so as to facilitate construction projects in Gaza – authorized by the PA and implemented and monitored by the international community.
This list includes:
- Portland cement and lime (in bulk, bags or barrels)
- Natural and Quarry aggregates and all varieties of gravel
- Ready concrete
- Precast concrete elements and products
- Steel elements and/or construction products
- Iron for foundations and columns, at any diameter (including wielded steel nets)
- Steel cables of any width
- Forms for construction elements (plastics or galvanized iron)
- Industrialized forms for casting concrete
- Plastic or composite beams more than 4 mm thick
- Thermal isolation materials and products
- Blocs (at any width) – Concrete; Silicate; Ytong or its equivalent; or gypsum
- Materials and products for sealing structures
- Asphalt and its components (Bitumen, emulsion) in aggregate or packaged
- Steel elements or framing products for construction
- Cast concrete elements and products for drainage over 1 m in diameter
- Precast units and sea-borne containers
- Vehicles, excluding private cars and including 4X4 vehicles and other categories of motor vehicles liable to be used in terror activities
- Lumber beams and boards more than 2 cm thick, (liable to be used in “offensive” tunneling aimed at penetrating Israeli territory), unless incorporated in finished products
- Specific procedures, on a case by case basis, will be established so as to permit the transfer of such lumber for other purposes in Gaza.
BBC News: Israel confirms easing of Gaza blockade
Al Jazeera report (here) and interview with Tony Bliar:
Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip has created a shortage of construction materials such as cement. But, some builders have adapted to make use of one thing they have plenty of – sand.
Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip has brought immense sufferings to Palestinians living in the coastal territory. The siege even impedes the supply of water, the most basic need for human survival.
Now – 80 per cent of Gazans lack access to clean water.
The head of Gaza’s water authority says he has plans and the means to import water from other countries until self-dependency is reached, but Israel’s blockade is the only thing in the way.