Facing intense international pressure, Israel has agreed to ease its controversial blockade on the Gaza Strip in an apparent bid to diffuse anger over last month's raid of a Turkish aid ship, in which nine activists died. The new policy will let some civilian goods enter the Palestinian territory over land, but leave the sea blockade in place. European leaders called the announcement a "step in the right direction," but a senior leader of Hamas, which controls Gaza, dismissed the change as "window dressing." Is Israel making a significant change? (Watch a Russia Today report about Israel's easing of the blockade)
What an empty ploy: "This is no easing of the blockade," say the editors of Abu Dhabi's The National. Construction supplies were the only things Israel specifically promised to let into Gaza over land — as if a few two-by-fours will relieve the Palestinian people's suffering. This is nothing but "a political sop to mollify Washington and other friendly critics who are appalled by Israel's actions against the Gaza flotilla last month."
"Easing of blockade is an Israeli ploy"
Israel's enemies refuse to give it credit: Israel's enemies will never be satisfied, says Rick Moran in American Thinker, but this could reassure Israel's supporters who thought the restrictions on Gaza were pointlessly "restrictive." The blockade was intended both to keep weapons out of Hamas' hands and to "make life so difficult for Gazans that they overthrow or vote out Hamas." That's clearly not happening, so it's smart to ease up.
"Israel to relax Gaza blockade"
Only time will tell whether this will make a difference: If this means letting in "all food items, toys, stationery, kitchen utensils, mattresses and towels," says Ian Black in Britain's Guardian, it could bring real relief for "1.5 million people still living in siege conditions" and stave off the immediate humanitarian crisis. But it's still not the "breakthrough" needed to avert more potentially deadly conflicts at sea.
"Israel to ease Gaza blockade, but major restrictions remain in small print"