Gaza Truck 311.
(photo credit: Yaakov Lappin)
Israel has no intention of easing its blockade of the Gaza Strip because of the
release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, government officials said
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The officials said the blockade was in place primarily to stop
the smuggling and local manufacturing of arms, and was not necessarily related
to Hamas’s holding of Schalit for over five years.
official said the issue of the blockade was not raised at the cabinet meeting
when the government approved the deal for Schalit last week.
officials told the London-based pan-Arabic Al- Hayat
newspaper over the weekend
that Israel was expected to ease its blockade as a result of the Schalit deal,
but only if Hamas agreed to stationing Palestinian Authority security officials
at cross-border checkpoints, and a return of EU border observers.
Cuisin, a spokesman for the EU Border Assistance Mission for the Rafah Crossing
(EUBAM) which manned the Rafah border periodically in 2006 and the first half of
2007, said the force has not been contacted about the possibility of returning
to the Gaza crossing.
“As a third-party mission, EUBAM Rafah has to be
invited by the parties – Israel and the Palestinian Authority – in order to be
reactivated,” he said. “So far none of the stakeholders has formally requested
the EU to reactivate the mission, even though EUBAM Rafah has a redeployment
plan to increase rapidly the strength of the mission if conditions allow
EUBAM stopped its operations in June 2007, just days before Hamas
took control of the region. Israel and Egypt sealed the border crossing with
Gaza shortly thereafter.
“Hamas is the same Hamas – they haven’t changed
in any way – and the restrictions on the area are in place because they continue
to fire missiles on us,” one government official said when asked if Israel would
review its blockade policy in light of the Schalit deal.
acknowledged that while Schalit was often cited as one of the reasons for the
blockade, the main reason was to curtail the arms smuggling and manufacturing
and place pressure on Hamas to end its rocket attacks on Israel.
2010, after the Mavi Marmara incident and mounting international pressure,
Israel eased the overland restrictions on goods going into Gaza, allowing in
civilian goods, but preventing “dual-use” items that could be used to manufacture
The sea blockade still remains in place, and there continue to be
strict restrictions on Gaza exports, as well as on the movement of people in and
out of the region.