Gaza

Shalit deal could end Gaza chokehold

By Jennifer Lipman, June 9, 2010

Gilad Shalit’s father has said his son’s captivity is the obstacle preventing Gaza from overcoming “economic chokehold”.

Noam Shalit said that if Hamas were to agree a deal to release the soldier, kidnapped nearly four years ago, it would encourage Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza.

He told a Jerusalem conference that the continued imprisonment of the soldier for the purpose of bargaining and political blackmail “is a grave war crime”.

Calling on Hamas to release him, Mr Shalit said: "This will allow for rebuilding the ruins in Gaza in wake of Operation Cast Lead.”

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Israel takes step to ease Gaza blockade

By Jennifer Lipman, June 9, 2010

Israel has relaxed the blockade of Gaza to permit more provisions into the area.

Officials said the list of items allowed into the Gaza Strip has been expanded to include goods from Coca Cola to shaving cream and spices.

There has been international pressure for Israel to lift the blockade following the raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying supplies.

The blockade has been in place since Hamas won power in the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Egypt had also closed its borders to Gaza, although restrictions have been lifted temporarily in the aftermath of the flotilla clash.

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Blair: Israel has right to check what goes to Gaza

By Jennifer Lipman, June 9, 2010

Tony Blair has said in an interview that Israel has the right to check supplies that are sent into Gaza.

Speaking on Israeli television, the former British prime minister and Middle East Quartet envoy said the Gaza blockade should be lifted but "when it comes to security, I am one hundred per cent on Israel's side."

Mr Blair added: "There's no question that there are rockets fired from Gaza and that there are people in Gaza who want to kill innocent Israelis.

“Israel has the right to inspect what goes into Gaza."

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Britain gives Gaza £19m aid

By Jennifer Lipman, June 7, 2010

The British government has pledged to give £19 million in aid to Gaza and called on Israel to end the blockade.

Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, said the money is to go towards services including education and healthcare.

The donation is part of a £100 million financial deal with the UN Relief and Works Agency, which the Labour government arranged in 2006.

The announcement follows a second attempt by pro-Palestinian activists to breach Israel’s blockade of Gaza, which has been in place since Hamas gained control of the area in 2007.

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MPs criticise Gaza blockade

By Robyn Rosen, June 3, 2010

More than 60 MPs, including Hampstead and Kilburn MP Glenda Jackson, have signed an early day motion, criticising Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

The EDM, tabled by Birmingham Northfield MP, Richard Burden, chair of the Britain Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group, demands a “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation” of the flotilla incident and claims that the blockade has “destroyed the economy of Gaza and deepened poverty”.

It also claims that Israel imposes “collective punishment” on the people of Gaza and states its actions are illegal.

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Israel advocates get media training amid international criticism

By Marcus Dysch, June 3, 2010

Hopeful Israel advocates took part in a media training course with a renowned communications expert — as the Gaza flotilla deaths brought an avalanche of criticism against the Jewish state.

Linda Lovitch, who counts leading Israel spokesman Mark Regev among her former students, led the two-day exercise in London on behalf of the Zionist Federation.

After learning on Sunday the importance of being polite, knowing your audience and having facts at your fingertips, the 14 participants, including students and businessmen, were faced just 24 hours later with a real-time case study.

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British Army expert: "Blame flotilla for deaths"

By Marcus Dysch, June 3, 2010

The former commander of British forces in Afghanistan has said Israeli troops should not be blamed for the deaths of activists on the Gaza-bound flotilla.

Speaking on behalf of the Israel Project, an international non-profit education organisation, Colonel Richard Kemp said: “We should not forget that none of these deaths would have occurred if the people on the ships had not attacked the Israelis.

“It’s wrong to blame the Israeli soldiers for the deaths. The flotilla must shoulder the blame for this.”

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Hundreds demonstrate for Israel in London

By Jessica Elgot, June 3, 2010

More than 700 pro-Israel supporters were outside the Israeli embassy on Wednesday night, waving flags, singing and denouncing Israel’s treatment by politicians and by the media.

One supporter who broke through the police barriers was taken away by police. He is thought to have been carrying a paint bomb, but police did not confirm why he had been arrested.

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Hamas refuse to let aid into Gaza

By Jennifer Lipman, June 2, 2010

Hamas has refused to allow the supplies from the flotilla ships into the Gaza Strip and has accused Israel of tampering with the equipment.

Israel has loaded 20 trucks with the cargo from the aid ships, including clothing, medical supplies and blankets, to bring into the area.

But Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, is apparently preventing its delivery.

A Hamas spokesperson said they would only accept the transfer of the humanitarian supplies when all the pro-Palestinian activists detained by Israel were released.

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Hague calls for investigation into flotilla raid

By Robyn Rosen, June 2, 2010

Foreign Secretary William Hague has said he is “seriously concerned” about Israel’s actions and called for a full investigation.

Mr Hague gave a statement to the House of Commons today and said the government had expressed its “disappointment” to the Israeli government about its lack of access to the 37 British nationals who were on board the flotilla, of whom it has been in contact with twenty-eight.

He said: “We have demanded urgent information about and access to all UK nationals involved. Their welfare is our top priority at this time.

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