In the wake of international controversy over its bloody attack on a flotilla headed towards Gaza, Israel is lifting a tiny part the Gaza embargo, officials noted, by allowing snack food to pass through. So tensions may be at a fever pitch between Israel and the Palestinians and Arabs, Jews and Muslims may hate each other — but never underestimate the power of soda, juice, jellies, jam, spices, potato chips, cookies, packaged hummous and candy.
Yes, this lifting of part of the ban doesn’t solve the problem of the devastated Gaza economy, which has seen the disappearance of jobs and of vital, needed building materials. And some of the items now allowed through may be ones already smuggled in from neighboring countries anyway.
But there are some things that even hard-nosed officials sticking to a blockade cannot deny a populace. There are some staples of modern life (soda, juice, jellies, jam, spices, potato chips, cookies, packaged hummous and candy) that simply cannot be be taken away from a population or it’d be considered cruel and inhuman punishment.
Reuters gives these details:
Israel is easing its Gaza embargo to allow snack food and drinks into the Palestinian enclave, Palestinian officials said Wednesday, following an international outcry over Israel’s raid on an aid flotilla.
Hamas, the Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip, said the territory needs cement — banned by Israel and essential for reconstruction after a December 2008-January 2009 war — not soft drinks.
An Israeli official said the new product list, announced hours before U.S. President Barack Obama was to host Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Washington, was unrelated to Israel’s May 31 takeover of the convoy that challenged its Gaza blockade.
The talks between Obama and Abbas are expected to focus on ways to ease the embargo, which has drawn mounting international criticism since Israeli commandos, who met violent resistance on a Turkish-flagged ship, killed nine pro-Palestinian activists.
The Palestinian officials, based in the West Bank, said that as of next week, Israel will allow a wider variety of food, such as potato crisps, biscuits, canned fruit and packaged humous, as well as soft drinks and juice, into the Gaza Strip.
“They will send the first course. We are waiting for the main course,” Palestinian Economy Minister Hassan Abu Libdeh said in Ramallah. “We are waiting for this unjust siege to end.”
Will Israel soon allow the Gaza that vital element of 21st century life – something critical to the functioning of the human body and crucial to productivity? Will it allow THIS through?
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.