Israel 'eases' Gaza siege for watered-down probe on attack

The Israel moves come in return for the international community reportedly agreeing a watered-down probe into a deadly flotilla raid.

Israel 'eases' Gaza siege for watered-down probe on attack

Israel has allowed some formerly banned food items into the Gaza Strip in a move that Netanyahu government hopes to escape international probe on last week's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound international flotilla.

Israel drew worldwide condemnation over its attack on Turkish Gaza ship which 9 activists were killed.

Palestinian liaison official Raed Fattouh says Israel has lifted the ban on soda, juice, jam, spices, shaving cream, chips, cookies and sweets.

Fattouh, head of a West Bank-based Palestinian government committee that coordinates entry of goods into the Gaza Strip from Israel, said they are Israeli-made drinks and snack food.

Fattouh said Israeli officials rebuffed Palestinian requests for construction goods, raw materials for factories to operate and medical devices.

A Palestinian merchant, who spoke to Reuters in the Gaza Strip on condition of anonymity, said Hamas officials ordered businessmen in the enclave not to import most of the items from Israel.

There was no immediate comment from Hamas.

"No to building homes"


However, Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity pending a formal announcement, say the move is meant to defuse pressure for an international investigation of the raid.

The move does not include the most-needed items in Gaza, such as cement, steel and other materials needed to build homes in the war-devastated strip.

The naval raid drew attention to the blockade, imposed by Israel and Egypt since 2007.

Israeli officials confirmed the decision to allow in the new foods.

They said the move was meant to defuse pressure for an international investigation of the raid. Another government official said they would continue to ease the blockade but offered no further details. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity pending a formal government announcement.

Turkey has led the international criticism of Israel's siege o Gaza. The nine activists killed last week included eight Turks and a Turkish American.

"Watered-down probe"

The Israel moves come in return for the international community agreeing a watered-down probe into a deadly flotilla raid.

"Israel is poised to accept a British plan to ease its blockade of Gaza in exchange for international acceptance of a watered-down investigation into last week's deadly raid on a Turkish aid ship", sources told a British paper on Tuesday.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Britain last week circulated a document outlining proposals to ease the blockade. It quoted an unnamed Western source close to the talks with Israel saying: “A quid pro quo deal is in the offing”.

Israel has outlined plans to hold probes into the legality of its naval blockade of Gaza and the raid last week on an aid flotilla which was bidding to break it which killed nine people.

It is reportedly considering setting up an investigative team made up of Israeli jurists and former diplomats as well as two foreign observers.

But, this would fall short of the independent, international investigation several world leaders have called for.

The United States said Tuesday it backed "international participation" in a probe into the flotilla raid, echoing similar remarks by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Meanwhile, 21 Asian and Middle Eastern states expressed “grave concern and condemnation” over the raid at a security summit in Istanbul.

Turkey, whose citizens died on the flotilla, has said normalisation of ties with Israel would be “out of the question” if it failed to agree to an international probe.

"Keeping silent one more time against this totally unlawful attack in international waters and ignoring this attack again like it was done in the past, will open a new wound in the conscience of humanity," Turkey's prime minister said on Wednesday.

Erdogan said that a state's irresponsible, unthoughtful and reckless breach of law would do harm to people's perception of justice, as well as the reliability of international organizations.

"If we are talking about global peace, we should display a humanistic, fair, decisive and brave stance against such illegalities," Erdogan said.

The Turkish premier also said that those remaining silent would be participating in and legitimizing such violent attacks.


Agencies

Last Mod: 09 Haziran 2010, 17:44
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