Gazan Check Points Open As Israel Bows To International Pressure
June 15, 2010: James Hider and David Charter / Times Online – June 15, 2010
Israel bowed to international pressure yesterday when it agreed to reopen crossing points into Gaza for everyday goods. The decision was prompted by criticism of its bloody interception of an aid flotilla two weeks ago and condemnation of the Gaza blockade by the Red Cross.
Tony Blair, Middle East peace envoy, hailed the move as significant after the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, agreed in principle to relax restrictions on goods entering Gaza. It will replace the current narrow list of permitted items with a list of specifically prohibited goods.
Mr Blair also welcomed the proposal from Mr Netanyahu for an Israeli inquiry into the flotilla raid, with Lord Trimble, the former First Minister of Northern Ireland, named as one of two international observers — despite him having started, coincidentally, a Friends of Israel Initiative on the day of the flotilla raid. Turkey, however, immediately rejected the format of the inquiry, overseen by a senior Israeli judge. The United Nations had called for an independent, international investigation of the incident in which nine Turkish activists died.
“The Isreali inquiry is obviously a significant step forward,” said Mr Blair yesterday. “In respect of the closure policy, I hope very much that, in the next days, we will get the commitment (in principle) that we require but then also the steps beginning to be taken. Some of these issues, drawing up the negative list, will take some time. But we hope very much we can start getting stuff into Gaza, “There are also a whole series of UN projects which are ready to go. The UN has a specific way of getting material in — we are talking about repairing schools, the electricity, water, sanitation, housing — we can get that under way very quickly, I believe.”
The Red Cross, a neutral organisation that works in some of the most sensitive conflicts in the world, labelled the Israeli blockade of the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza illegal. “The whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility,” it said in a statement yesterday. “The closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law.”
Israel’s blockade policy, which began shortly after Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, was intensified after Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007.
Gaza and aid groups will be wary of any Israeli attempt at a change it feels is designed merely to reduce international pressure. Hamas has refused the entry of some goods on offer, arguing that it does not want to depend on Israeli handouts of cookies and ketchup, but wants raw materials so that it can revive the Gazan economy and make its own products such as biscuits. Aid groups say that, at present, Israel allows in small, retail-sized packages of margarine, for example, but not industrial-size tubs that could be used by bakeries and in food manufacturing. Building materials have been banned because of Israeli concerns that militants would use them to construct fortifications.
One EU diplomat said that, while no final decisions had been made, there were positive indications that Israel might be willing to open either the Karni or the Kerem Shalom border crossings for large-scale imports. The diplomat said that Israel had rejected a proposal for cargo to be delivered by ships which would be checked in a third location such as Cyprus.
A retired Israeli Supreme Court judge, Yaakov Turkel, will chair the raid inquiry, which will “investigate aspects related to the actions taken by the state of Israel to prevent vessels reaching the coast of Gaza on May 31,” the office of Mr Netanyahu said.
Lord Trimble, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in helping to secure the Good Friday agreement in Ulster, will be one of two foreign observers. The other is Ken Watkin, a former chief prosecutor of the Canadian armed forces and a retired brigadier-general. The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said that while the United States believed that Israel could conduct a credible and impartial investigation, an “international component would buttress its credibility in the eyes of the international community”.
William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, defended Lord Trimble as a credible international figure. “The UN Secretary-General put forward a good proposal for an inquiry and of course there will be people who continue to say that was the best proposal. I am in no way saying this is the perfect answer by Israel. “I think we would all have wanted more international representation but it is the inquiry they have established and that is why I say it is a welcome step forward and it does have international observers,” he said.
Israeli Attack on the Mavi Marmara – Raw Footage
The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: Everyone of those involved in the murders, piracy and kidnappings on the Mavi Marmari and the Gaza Aid Flotilla, from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) who pulled the triggers to the Zionists who ordered the attack, must be brought to justice immediately by the international community and found guilty as charged… – SJH
Link to original article below…
Written by Steven John Hibbs
June 15, 2010 at 5:24 pm
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