Monday, 16 March 2009


Last Tuesday was a not untypical day at the Gaza checkpoints. A total of 110 truckloads of merchandise (2,134 tons), mainly basic foodstuffs but also some cooking oil and some hygiene products, were allowed through from Israel, together with some heavy diesel oil for electricity production. The volumes were small given that UNRWA says that 500 truckloads of goods are needed every day.

The Israelis allowed no items into Gaza that could be of use to business or industry. No paper for the schools passed the checkpoints, no household goods, no electrical equipment, no concrete, steel, timber or building materials to enable reconstruction to commence. Having been bombed so extensively, Gaza now stagnates.

The European Commission tells me that the rules keep being changed. One week jam is allowed in, the next week it's prohibited; sometimes toilet paper is allowed, sometimes it is not. Even the Americans have been making protests.

The first visit to Gaza by Tony Blair attracted much publicity. The fact that nothing has changed since receives less attention. Palestinians must wonder whether the words of concern expressed by so many in Europe will ever be backed up by any kind of sanction against Israel.

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