Truth Behind Blockade of Gaza – As Revealed by Israel

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News Release – For immediate release – Thursday, October 21, 2010

Due to Gisha’s Freedom of Information Act Petition on Gaza Closure:
Israel Reveals Documents related to the Gaza Closure Policy

Þ After 1.5 years of obstruction, today Israel revealed the procedures governing the closure of Gaza and the lists of goods whose entrance was permitted.
Þ The documents reveal a policy of economic strangulation.
Þ The documents show that Israel was guided by considerations of image and public perception, not just security and the rights and needs of Palestinian residents of Gaza.

Thursday, October 21, 2010: After one and a half years in which Israel at first denied their existence and then claimed that revealing them would harm “state security”, the State of Israel today released three documents that outline its policy for permitting transfer of goods into the Gaza Strip prior to the May 31 flotilla incident. The documents were released due to a Freedom of Information Act petition submitted by Gisha-Legal Center for Freedom of Movement in the Tel Aviv District Court, in which Gisha demanded transparency regarding the Gaza closure policy. Israel still refuses to release the current documents governing the closure policy as amended after the flotilla incident.

“Policy of Deliberate Reduction”
The documents reveal that the state approved “a policy of deliberate reduction” for basic goods in the Gaza Strip. Thus, for example, Israel restricted the supply of fuel needed for the power plant, disrupting the supply of electricity and water. The state set a “lower warning line” to give advance warning of expected shortages in a particular item, but at the same time approved ignoring that warning, if the good in question was subject to a policy of “deliberate reduction”. Moreover, the state set an “upper red line” above which even basic humanitarian items could be blocked, even if they were in demand. The state claimed in a cover letter to Gisha that in practice, it had not authorized reduction of “basic goods” below the “lower warning line”, but it did not define what these “basic goods” were.

“Luxuries” denied for Gaza Strip residents
In violation of international law, which allows Israel to restrict the passage of goods only for concrete security reasons, the decision whether to permit or prohibit an item was also based on “the good’s public perception” and “whether it is viewed as a luxury”. In other words, items characterized as “luxury” items would be banned – even if they posed no security threat, and even if they were needed. Thus, items such as chocolate and paper were not on the “permitted” list. In addition, officials were to consider “sensitivity to the needs of the international community”.

Ban on Reconstructing Gaza
Although government officials have claimed that they will permit the rehabilitation of Gaza, the documents reveal that Israel treated rehabilitation and development of the Gaza Strip as a negative factor in determining whether to allow an item to enter; goods “of a rehabilitative character” required special permission. Thus, international organizations and Western governments did not receive permits to transfer building materials into Gaza for schools and homes.

Secret List of Goods
The procedures determine that the list of permitted goods “will not be released to those not specified!” (emphasis in original), ignoring the fact that without transparency, merchants in Gaza could not know what they were permitted to purchase. The list itemized permitted goods only. Items not on the list – cumin, for example – would require a special procedure for approval, irrespective of any security consideration, at the end of which it would be decided whether to let it in or not.

According to Gisha Director Sari Bashi: “Instead of considering security concerns, on the one hand, and the rights and needs of civilians living in Gaza, on the other, Israel banned glucose for biscuits and the fuel needed for regular supply of electricity – paralyzing normal life in Gaza and impairing the moral character of the State of Israel. I am sorry to say that major elements of this policy are still in place”.

To view the documents revealed today by the state (in Hebrew), click here (excerpted English translations will be available tonight).

To view the FOIA petition submitted by Gisha (in Hebrew), click here.

For translated excerpts of the state’s response initially refusing to reveal the documents, click here.

For an information sheet on the changes in the closure policy since the June 2010 cabinet decision, see: Unraveling the Closure of Gaza.
For further information and to coordinate interviews: Sari Bashi, Gisha Director: +972-54-8172103 or +972-3-6244120, sari@gisha.org; Nirit Ben-Ari, Gisha Spokesperson: +972-54-8172104.

Comments(14)

  • Kathleen
    October 23, 2010, 5:51 am  

    As they say in Israel “Lets put Gaza on a diet. So what if Gaza children suffer from malnutrition..maybe they won’t die in noticeable numbers. So what if water in Gaza is 90% contaminated. Maybe they are trying to actually reduce the population. Children die quickly from dysentery. My baby grandson in 24 hours lost 1 1/2 pounds when he had it. We saw him shrink before our eyes. We got him to the hospital and we bought peteolyte; pretty expensive. No doubt Israel bans that as they do medical aids and equipment and they are letting people die who ask to leave Gaza for tratments not available in Gaza. But I hear Israel is letting snacks in now..not milk, not fishing poles..but hey;Israel knows what its doing. Killing ‘terrorist’ babies I guess. 1 million of Gaza’s population is under 18. Children in Israel’s biggest prison.

  • Karim
    October 23, 2010, 4:17 pm  

    “In violation of international law, which allows Israel to restrict the passage of goods only for concrete security reasons”

    So when are we going to bring the UN, the president of every member of the UN security council and president of every country that didn’t defy UN Resolution 660, 661?
    Seems to me like the whole world and the UN agreed it is legal to cut all trade with Iraq except for “humanitarian circumstances”.
    So i guess the whole world was in violation of international law for over a decade, we got to starts building huge jails for the thousands of world leaders and politicans that took part in this crime.

    From Wikipedia Iraq sanctions August 6, 1990 – May 22, 2003
    Initially the U.N. Security Council had adopted Resolution 661, a resolution that imposed stringent economic sanctions on Iraq.[2] After the end of the 1991 Gulf War, those sanctions were extended and elaborated on, including linkage to removal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), by Resolution 687.[3][4] The sanctions banned all trade and financial resources except for medicine and “in humanitarian circumstances” foodstuffs.
    Estimates of civilian deaths during from the sanctions range from 170,000 to over 1.5 million, most of them children.”
    I would love to hear how the UN expains how is it legal for them to ban all trade export and import from Iraq besides medicine and in humanitarian circumstances, while view it illegal to have much loosened sanctions on Hamas which is actually at war with Israel and its main goal is to destroy it.

  • Dillon
    October 24, 2010, 9:40 am  

    The disease of zionism packaged with all its lies and marketed with the teary monologue of the perennial holocaust industry is a “luxury” that humanity can no longer afford. The so-called “war on terror” is no more than the soundtrack to amerikan zionist expansion as this corpocratic militocracy that was once a supposed democracy makes wanton slaughter the main dogma of the Christian slash Jewish axis of evil. The gall of the apartheid regime in occupied Palestine to draw up such a NAZI formula for the slow burn destruction of the rightful owners of that land land leaves me shaking with rage that these same whited-sepulchurs in Tel Aviv and Washington dare to lecture the rest of us regarding the meaning of peace or democracy as they drool their mealy-mouthed slogans and their predators and reapers sow havoc.

    What the Jewish Kapos of Warsaw learned is all too visible in the “lists” of the ziodons running their own Untermensch concentration camps throughout Palestine today. Amerikan tax cattle can be proud of their financial contribution along with the Christless bleeting of the rapture sheeple and their insane longing for Armageddon that only furthers this insane nonsense.

    Can USers be cured of their ignorance as the zionist Goebels’ machine of amerikan media frantically cranks up war hysteria against its greatest enemy, Iran? Or more likely will the Tea Party mad hatter shenanigans that passes for democracy in amerika today lead this once brave land to the same harvest of destruction and backwardness that USans have so generously bestowed on lands too numerous to mention in the few centuries of our “exceptionalism”? If Karma is to be believed then the future of the US will be bleak indeed.

  • October 25, 2010, 7:18 pm  

    Dillon,
    YOU have written an amazing, articulate, well informed comment and I must thank you for your effort.
    I, too, have been shaking with rage for too long.
    How dare these evil bastards continue plotting thier vile agenda on the The Palestinians?
    And, all the while WE (US taxpayers) are paying for it.
    We DOT NOT live in a democracy, it is an insult to reason.
    BUT, as the word spreads, and it must, I hope Israel ends up shooting itself in the foot.

  • Karim
    October 26, 2010, 10:08 am  

    The Turkish “peace activists” arrive to Gaza doesn’t get alot more peaceful than that.
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_uPzsiWdvLoQ/TMYW1Rm5NzI/AAAAAAAADWo/02WPsFocxrk/s400/turk.jpg

    Members of the Islamic Hamas movement Saturday scattered ashes from the nine Turkish activists killed by Israeli naval forces during the interception of their Gaza-bound flotilla on the graves of Hamas militants killed in Gaza.

    Some peace activists huh?

  • Dillon
    October 27, 2010, 7:47 am  

    Poor karim…that’s it, your whining aspersions? You obviously consider the scattering of the ashes of murder victims of the xionazi apartheid state (aka Israel) on the graves of Palestinian martyrs to be a heinous act. No mention of course of the daily outrages by jewish thieves and murderers who slaughter the rightful owners of Palestine with impunity. For the likes of you bleeding on the gallant “israeli naval forces” aka pirating thugs, must be considered an anti semitic act if not indeed outright terrorism.

    Onward to Palestine free of murdering khasari mutts living from USan handouts.

    Boycott the beast of IZZ
    Barcode 729
    BDS is biting.

  • Karim
    October 28, 2010, 8:02 am  

    I welcome this new approach by the terrorist supporters like the IHH to quit lying and claiming they are activist and show their true colours.
    I am sure the shahids that died on the Mavi Marmara got really angry from their play time with those virgins when they heard the lies spread by the media and the likes of Ken O’Keefe claiming they were only peace activists and not suicide stabbers.

  • AdnanHassan
    October 28, 2010, 2:40 pm  

    Karim, W

  • AdnanHassan
    October 28, 2010, 2:45 pm  

    Karim, What a poor pity ignorance soul you are. May our CREATOR show you the truth soon.

  • Gail Coleman
    October 31, 2010, 1:12 am  

    Karim, since when is spreading ashes a terrorist act? And where were the big , bad weapons those activists had in their hands when they wre gunned down by Israeli Naval Forces? The UN investigation has concluded that Israel violated international and humanitarian laws. Your statement about the “virgins” shows your total ignorance and bigotry. You would do yourself a favor by not embarrassing yourself. Until you have something intelligent to say, or you have some facts, put a big cork in your mouth!

  • Karim
    October 31, 2010, 9:31 am  

    Gail, Its not but a terrorist act but i guess if someone wants to refute allegation of him being communist having his ashes scattered over Lenins grave is the best way to go.
    It seems that the IHH are trying their best to show the world their deep connections with the child murdering terrorists of Hamas.
    An Afghan truck reaches an American checkpoint in Afghanistan, the people on it consider the checkpoint illegal and refuse to allow it to be checked for arms. Naturally they start stabbing the American soldiers and beating them with iron bars and axes.
    Your position, the American soldiers have no right to use their arms to defand themselve from these attacks?

    • Albere
      November 1, 2010, 6:38 pm

      Mikar, which in Arabic means devious, is an anagram of Karim. I say this: your analogies of afghani trucks and american check-points are pointless. Armed and trained Israeli navy units boarded and attacked a civilian boat in the dark of night. Clearly (not) their intentions were to search for weapons. If your analogy had the faintest aroma of truth the Israeli navy could have moored in Gazan waters and conducted a civil border check for security breaches. Living in Israel must have bleached your ability for logical reasoning, making comparisons and drawing conclusions.

  • omarinbox
    October 31, 2010, 11:58 am  

    So having your ashes scattered in a country where you planned to deliver aid but were killed in the process of makes you a terrorist now?

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