Jerusalem: Israel on Monday dropped its
long-standing restrictions on allowing consumer goods into the
Gaza Strip but retained limits on desperately needed
construction materials, redefining the rules of its heavily
criticised Gaza embargo on the eve of the Israeli prime
minister`s trip to the White House.
The new rules, which come in response to an international
outcry following a deadly Israeli raid on a blockade-busting
flotilla, should bring some relief to Gaza`s 1.5 million
The decision ends the use of a narrow and often arbitrary
list of foods and consumer goods allowed into Gaza. And in a
boost to the moribund Gaza economy, officials also said some
raw materials would soon be allowed to flow to Gaza`s
But prospects for rebuilding the damage from a punishing
Israeli military offensive last year remain uncertain.
Materials like steel and cement, which Israel says can be
diverted for use by the territory`s ruling Hamas militants,
would be allowed to enter only under Israeli supervision. And
Gazans will still remained largely confined to their tiny
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the
list was being released later on Monday.