No easing of travel ban for Gazans: Israel

Israel`s defence ministry told the Supreme Court on Thursday that its moves to ease its blockade on Gaza do not include relaxing regulations on Palestinians looking to travel out of the enclave.

Jerusalem: Israel`s defence ministry told the
Supreme Court on Thursday that its moves to ease its blockade on
Gaza do not include relaxing regulations on Palestinians
looking to travel out of the enclave.

The new rules governing Israel`s four-year-old blockade
"did not say anything about expanding the current policy,"
which only allows for travel out of Gaza "in humanitarian
cases," the ministry said at a hearing.
"To be clear: this decision does nothing to expand the
criteria, and it certainly does not permit passage for
purposes of master`s degree studies."

The statement was submitted in response to a petition
filed on behalf of human rights lawyer Fatma Sharif, 29, who
has been prevented from leaving Gaza to further her studies in
the West Bank.

The court rejected the petition, filed by the Israeli
human rights group Gisha.

It said it was not convinced "that in the current
political-security situation, her personal circumstances
justify intervening in the respondent`s decision."

Israel gave the go-ahead on Monday for the international
community to import construction materials into the Hamas-run
Gaza Strip provided it supervises the projects for which they
are used.
The move followed intense international pressure after a
deadly Israeli raid on a fleet of ships trying to deliver aid
to the beleaguered territory.

The blanket ban on importing building materials has meant
there has been very little reconstruction in Gaza since
Israel`s devastating 22-day offensive, which ended in January
2009.

Although almost all civilian goods are now officially
allowed into the impoverished territory, where a majority of
the 1.5 million population relies on foreign aid, the new
regulations do not allow exports from Gaza.

PTI