Steve Watson
Wednesday, Jun 23rd, 2010

Israel Vows To Tighten Gaza Blockade   U.S. Media Reports Blockade Eased 220610BennyWhile Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to tighten the blockade against Gaza, the castrated corporate media in the U.S. is reporting that Israeli restrictions are being eased.

Last week, Netanyahu’s office released a statement in English that vowed to “liberalize the system by which civilian goods enter Gaza” and “Expand the inflow of materials for civilian projects that are under international supervision”.

The headlines quickly followed:

Israel Eases Restrictions on Goods Bound for Gaza Strip” (Washington Post)

Israel to Ease Gaza Land Blockade” (New York Times)

Israel to Ease Blockade of Gaza, Cabinet Says” (CNN)

Israel says it will ease Gaza blockade” (MSNBC)

And on and on…

However, none of these outlets reported on the fact that Netanyahu’s security cabinet never actually reached any agreement to do anything regarding the blockade.

As Ha’aretz reported:

The prime minister’s office announced on Thursday that the security cabinet had agreed to relax Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip, but as it turns out, no binding decision was ever made during the cabinet meeting.

The prime minister’s office issued a press release in English following the meeting, which was also sent to foreign diplomats, was substantially different than the Hebrew announcement–according to the English text, a decision was made to ease the blockade, but in the Hebrew text there was no mention of any such decision.

Just hours later, Netanyahu pledged that his government intends to “tighten” the blockade, noting:

“There will be no civilian closure of Gaza but there will be a security closure. That security closure will be tightened from now on.”

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A key passage of Netanyahu’s statement came with the declaration:

“We have deprived Hamas of the ability to blame Israel for hurting the civilian population [of Gaza] and our friends around the world are getting behind our decision and giving international legitimacy to the security blockade on Hamas.”

As Sherine Tadros of Al Jazeera notes, this simply gives an official status to an illegal blockade:

By changing it from a “civilian” blockade to a “military” one, in one stroke Israel pacified the international community and gained their approval (or at least a nod) for its continuing policy in Gaza.

Israel’s naval blockade remains in place and the Gazan people are not allowed to leave or export any goods:

But even if more goods are let in, even if the UN is finally able to finish its projects in the Strip, even if the land crossings start working efficiently and for longer hours – the people of Gaza are still under the whim of Israel’s decisions and 1.7 million people cannot leave.

Israel has now also asked the UN to suspend attempts to organise an international inquiry into the violent raid on the freedom flotilla to Gaza last month.

Now Iran says it intends to send a blockade-busting ship carrying aid and pro-Palestinian activists to Gaza.

With an armada of twelve or more U.S. and Israeli warships, including an aircraft carrier, making their way to the Red Sea, with former senior Israeli officials ratcheting up the war rhetoric, and with Israeli commandos training for another possible confrontation at sea, any kind of incident could spark off conflict.

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