Israel opens one Gaza crossing; siege remains the same

Israeli authorities will allow limited deliveries of aid, commercial merchandise and fuel into the besieged Gaza Strip through Kerem Shalom crossing, the besieged Palestinian enclave’s border officials were told June 20. Gaza officials were told to expect between 81 to 91 truckloads of humanitarian aid and commercial goods via the southern terminal. Limited quantities of industrial diesel and domestic-use gas will be pumped through the same terminal, officials said. However, Gaza’s sole bulk goods crossing, the northern Karni terminal, will remain closed. The numbers remain the same as previous weeks, despite an Israeli government decision announced June 17 for a “liberalization” of the siege, increasing the number and variety of goods they would permit into the Strip. (Ma’an News Agency, June 19)

Israel’s cabinet confirmed the non-binding decision to modify its terms of the siege on Gaza after a meeting June 20, with reports saying the new plan would allow all items deemed not to have “military uses” to be permitted into the enclave.

The conditions Israeli officials set for the siege have never been made clear since its start four years ago, despite ongoing court challenges. Israeli authorities say no list of goods either banned or permitted could be released for security reasons. The statement issued after the cabinet meeting stated that security officials will soon “publish a list of items not permitted into Gaza that is limited to weapons and war materiel, including problematic dual-use items. All items not on this list will be permitted to enter Gaza.” (Ma’an News Agency, June 20)

In California, hundreds of protesters gathered at the port of Oakland before dawn on June 20, and effectively prevented the unloading of an Israeli cargo ship. The protesters, demanding an end to the Gaza siege, blocked Berth 58, where a ship from Israel’s Zim shipping line was scheduled to dock. The day shift of longshoremen agreed not to cross the picket line. The action was organized by the Labor/Community Committee in Solidarity with the People of Palestine: Arab American Union Members Council, and ANSWER. (SF Chronicle, June 20)

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