Israel will ease blockade of Gaza Strip to allow more food, official saysBy Lore Croghan and Erin Einhorn
June 14, 2010
Israel will ease its controversial blockade of the Gaza Strip to allow more food to enter the territory, a top official said Sunday.
"We are correcting it," Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said in an interview on CNN. "There is no reason not to have a full array of food to the Gazans and we are making sure this will be the case."
Ayalon's comments came as Israel faces mounting international pressure in the wake of the deadly May 31 raid on a flotilla of aid ships that killed nine Turkish activists.
Israel has strictly limited supplies to the Hamas-controlled territory to ebb the flow of bomb-making materials but has been criticized for also blocking essentials like food.
Israel had already taken steps recently to "expand the quantity...as well as the diversity of goods entering the Gaza Strip," said Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "These policies will continue."
A Palestinian official who supervises aid shipments into Gaza confirmed that Israel has started allowing ketchup, mayonnaise, sewing needles and thread into the territory in addition to the soft drinks, fruit juice, spices and potato chips that were added to the list last week.
Local officials meanwhile continued robust support for the Jewish state - including Rep. Peter King (R-Long Island) who has introduced a House bill, the America Stands with Israel Act, that has 45 Republican co-sponsors.
It calls for the United States to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council and to bar the use of American tax dollars for a UN investigation of last month's raid.
"The Human Rights Council is bigoted, biased, anti-Israel and anti-West," King said at a press conference near the United Nations.
Israel announced yesterday it would set up its own inquiry into the incident with international observers from Canada and Ireland.