GAZA: Israhell´s “humanitarian” siege of Gaza “How is the disclosure that Israel forbids the entry of sage and ginger, yet allows in cinnamon, related to security needs?

For a partial list of the permitted and prohibited goods, click here.


Gisha responds to a State submission in its Freedom of Information Act petition: How Will Disclosing Whether Coriander Is or Isn’t Allowed into the Gaza Strip Harm Israel’s National Security?

Thursday, May 6, 2010 – After 12 months of unsuccessful attempts by Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement to obtain documentation from the Israeli authorities about Israel’s policy concerning the entry of food and other goods into the Gaza Strip, and after claiming for many months that no such documents exist, Israel has finally admitted that it does indeed possess the information requested by Gisha, including a list of goods whose admission into the Gaza Strip is permitted. Following a petition submitted by Gisha under the Freedom of Information Act, and as a result of the Tel Aviv District Court’s rejection of the State’s claim that it had already provided all relevant information, the State last week submitted its response to the court. In this response the State apologized for “inaccurate statements made to the court”, that it claimed were the result of a misunderstanding and admitted to the existence of four primary documents. Following this admission, however, the State refused to disclose the contents of the documents. It argued that, despite not previously raising such an objection, disclosure of the documents “…would harm national security and foreign relations”. Gisha today filed its response to the court.
The documents whose existence the State now confirms are: (1) “The procedure for admitting goods into the Gaza Strip,” which regulates the processing of requests for transfer of goods to Gaza and updates of the list of products allowed into the Gaza Strip, (2) “The procedure for monitoring and assessing supply in the Gaza Strip” a document which regulates the monitoring of the level of supply of goods in Gaza to prevent shortages, (3) “A list of humanitarian products approved for admission into the Gaza Strip” which outlines the products which may be transferred to Gaza, and (4) a presentationcalled “Food Needs in Gaza – Red Lines,” a document that reportedly establishes the minimal nutritional requirements for the subsistence of the residents of the Gaza Strip. This document purportedly contains detailed tables of the number of grams and calories of each kind of food each resident should be permitted to consume, broken down by age and sex, apparently in order to establish a minimal threshold for restrictions on the admission of goods.
Regarding the first three documents, the State relied on an exception in the Freedom of Information Act to argue that it is concerned that harm would be done to Israel’s national security or its foreign relations if these working documents are revealed. The State refused to explain why revealing the documents would harm national security, arguing that the facts and reasons are so confidential that it could only present them to the court on an ex parte basis, i.e. in a closed hearing without the presence of Gisha’s lawyers. In relation to the “Red Lines” document, the State argued that it is not required to disclose it under the Freedom of Information Act because it is a draft document that does not serve as the basis for policy. However, this argument does not provide an answer to the question of how Israel manages to “provide effective warning of expected shortages” of goods in Gaza while continuing to insist that there is no working document that defines the minimum required quantities?
“It is not clear why Israel, instead of promoting transparency, chooses to invest so many resources in the attempt to conceal information”, said Adv. Tamar Feldman of Gisha, who wrote the petition. “How is the disclosure that Israel forbids the entry of sage and ginger, yet allows in cinnamon, related to security needs? It is also hard to imagine how disclosing this information would harm Israel’s foreign relations, unless the State is equating fear of harm to Israel’s image with fear of harm to its foreign relations”.
In the petition submitted by Gisha, the Ministry of Defense and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories were asked to answer very basic questions about Israel’s policy concerning the entry of food and other vital goods into the Gaza Strip, a policy that is shrouded in thick haze that obscures the State’s procedures. So, for example,it is not clear why Israel refuses to allow into Gaza products such as cans, which would allow farmers in Gaza to preserve and market their tomatoes, yet permits the transfer of packaged tomato paste manufactured in Israel. Nor is it clear how the decision to ban the import of other raw materials for industry such as industrial salt or large blocks of margarineare related to the security needs which are supposed to inform the policy for the crossings into the Gaza Strip.
Ref: Gisha
Food Shortages In Gaza Raise “Serious Questions About The Underlying Legality Of The Blockade.” According to Dr. Guilfoyle: “The BBC has reported UN agencies as saying that insufficient aid is reaching Gaza, possibly less than one quarter of daily needs. This raises serious questions about the underlying legality of the blockade.The relevant rules of armed conflict prohibit intentionally starving the civilian population and require that humanitarian supplies essential to survival must be allowed to pass, albeit subject to certain controls by the blockading power. To maintain a population at a level just above the bare minimum needed for survival might arguably be within the strictest letter of the law, but could never seriously be thought consistent with its spirit. Calls for the immediate cessation of the blockade may well have a good case in law as well as in humanitarian policy.” [Times of London, 6/1/10, emphasis added]

  • 2006: Israeli Government Adviser Speaks Of Putting “Palestinians On A Diet.” According to the Christian Science Monitor: “Israel says it will withhold $55 million a month in taxes and other fees collected by Israel, but owed to Palestinians. “‘The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger,’ Dov Weisglass, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, told the Israeli media.” [Christian Science Monitor, 2/27/06]

Israeli Blockade Exacerbating Humanitarian Crisis In Gaza. According to Amnesty International: “Israel’s military blockade of Gaza has left more than 1.4 million Palestinian men, women and children trapped in the Gaza Strip, an area of land just 40 kilometres long and 9.5 kilometres wide.  Mass unemployment, extreme poverty and food price rises caused by shortages have left four in five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid. As a form of collective punishment, Israel’s continuing blockade of Gaza is a flagrant violation of international law.” [Amnesty International, 6/1/10]

Gaza Blockade Is Only Hurting Civilians. As the Independent explains, “It is widely accepted internationally that the blockade is hurting the civilian population much more than Hamas, whose grip has tightened in the last three years. It has destroyed a once-entrepreneurial and productive economy, ensured that 80 per cent of its population now depend on food aid, left most of its water undrinkable, and prevented reconstruction of some 75 per cent of the buildings destroyed by Israel’s devastating military offensive in the winter of 2008-9, not to mention many, many thousands more destroyed since the beginning of the intifada in 2000; or the building of 100 new schools the UN refugee agency UNRWA desperately needs to meet its ever-soaring demands. It’s because world leaders understand this – at least on a theoretical basis since few ever enter Gaza – that the Quartet of the US, EU, Russia and the UN has repeatedly called for the siege to be lifted.” [Independent, 6/2/10]

Gaza Blockade Is Collective Punishment. According to Amnesty International: “This gratuitous exacerbation of the privations already suffered by the inhabitants of Gaza seriously hampered their access to health care and education and destroyed industries and livelihoods. Imposed ostensibly to deter rocket-firing into Israel by Palestinian armed groups, the blockade was nothing less than an outrage – the imposition of collective punishment on the entire population of Gaza. All too predictably, it hit hardest on the most vulnerable – children, the elderly, the homeless and the sick, including those in need of medical treatment outside Gaza – not the armed militants responsible for rocket firing.” [Amnesty International, accessed 6/3/10]

UN: Since Blockade Is “Collective Punishment,” It Violates The Geneva Convention. According to a 2009 report to the United Nations: “As noted by senior United Nations human rights and humanitarian officials, among others, the blockade of Gaza amounts to collective punishment, which is prohibited under international humanitarian law. Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that ‘No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or terrorism are prohibited. […] Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.'” [UN Report, 11/6/09]

Ref: Political Correction

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