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Israel refuses plea to allow humanitarian items into Gaza


By Saed Bannoura


As Muslims around the world, and in the besieged Gaza Strip, celebrate the holiday of Eid al-Fitr this weekend, Gazans remain without many of the key items used to celebrate the holiday, including dates, sweets, food, and new clothes and shoes for children.

Israel refused to allow these items to enter the Strip due to "security concerns".

Ra'ed Fatouh, the head of the Commercial Crossings Dept. in the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, released a statement to the media Saturday saying that Israel refused the Palestinian population's plea to allow these goods into Gaza for the celebration of the holiday.

The Gaza Strip has been under a tight siege controlled by the Israeli military since June of 2007, after the Hamas party, elected in 2006 by the Palestinian population, came to power after failing to negotiate a 'unity government' that would please Israel.

Instead, Hamas was able to assume its democratically-elected role only in the Gaza Strip, while in the other Palestinian Territory, the West Bank, Israeli government officials and military were able to pressure the population into accepting a government run by the un-elected Fateh party, which is favored by Israel.

As punishment, Israel put the entire population of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza under a strict siege, preventing the import or export of most commercial goods, and preventing the Palestinians from having access to fuel, food, medical supplies, building equipment and many other essentials.

Israel has demanded the unconditional release of an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was captures in August 2006 by Palestinian resistance fighters. Over 11,000 Palestinians are being held by Israel in detention camps, but Israeli officials have thus far failed to negotiate a prisoner swap with the Palestinians that would allow for the release of a number of these detainees in exchange for Shalit.

Palestinian official Ra'ed Fatouh said that only 32 types of products are currently being allowed into Gaza, adding that in a meeting with Israeli officials, the Israelis told him not to expect any progress in the amount and sorts of the goods to Gaza as long as the situation (the soldier issue) remains the same".

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