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Israel’s New Humanitarianism

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Last week, Israel permitted the transport of jam, halva and shaving razors into Gaza. Since September 2007, goods entering Gaza had been limited to a ‘humanitarian minimum’ of approximately 70 items of foodstuffs and medicines (4000 items were allowed in before the blockade). During a visit to Gaza in February 2009, John Kerry discovered that Israel had banned pasta but not rice, because the latter was considered a necessity while the former was a luxury.

After the flotilla fiasco and the widespread international condemnation that followed, it appears that Israel’s policy is changing and that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is actually willing to broaden its definition of humanitarianism to include jam and halva. It is even possible that pasta will soon be allowed into Gaza. Browsing through a partial list of banned items, provided by the Israeli human rights group Gisha, one can only speculate which items will be the next to be allowed to enter Gaza with the adoption of Israel’s new humanitarianism.

Some of the things that can’t be imported to Gaza:

Comments

  1. Chris Larkin says:

    Interesting that ‘wood for construction’ and ‘fabric (for clothing)’ are considered luxury items. I’m fairly certain they would be more useful in keeping families from the elements than biscuits and jam. On second thoughts maybe i’m just buying the wrong digestives?

  2. semitone says:

    Chocolate? Those scoundrel Israelis are blockading chocolate? Even more dastardly than I thought.

    • Phil says:

      Actually it’s precisely because chocolate is a luxury that it’s so hard to identify a good reason for forcibly withholding it from the government and people of Gaza. I mean, it’s not weaponisable, as far as I’m aware.

    • pinhut says:

      You must have heard of the chocolate rockets, or chockets, that the Palestinians regularly launch into Israel, soiling numerous shirts and causing general consternation.

      However, Iran is currently providing ‘chocolate secrets’ to Hamas, who are now hellbent on the construction of a enormous Toblerone. While they insist this Toblerone is for peaceful purposes, the Israelis insist that ‘such a confection poses an existential threat to the state of Israel’. Rumours persist however, that Israel itself possesses an enormous undeclared store of hobnobs, that exist outside of all international legal frameworks and that may be used in a pre-emptive strike…


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